Speaking of wasting water, why not conserve it in a nice clean glass container? Pure has come out with a shatterproof completely clear solution to glass water bottles.
They were nice enough to send me their 520ml Traveler bottle to try out and it quickly has become my waterbottle of choice. The outer coating is BPA free and gives the bottle a nice non-slip grip and feel while remaining totally transparent.
The top is also ingenious with two screw tops, one with a wide mouth to accommodate ice cubes and easy cleaning, and a small drinking top to prevent splashing when drinking on the go.
Plus it’s clean, stylish and can accommodate any drink mixes, powders or liquids you can throw at it. Nice!
Society has seen a quick adoption of reusable grocery bags, especially with legislative measures in their favor in several cities/states/countries (like Washington DC and the Republic of Ireland). This progressive adoption is understandable on at least three counts outside of these two places as well. Firstly, as these bags are convenient for grocery stores, which in turn will save money on paper and plastic bags. Secondly, as they’re also convenient for shoppers who no longer have to hope the bag boy didn’t over-stuff the flimsy plastic/paper bags they would normally use. And finally, convenient for the environment as it results in less dependency on plastic bags which would to take millennia to biodegrade.
The quick spread of these bags comes at a cost though as the people adopting them aren’t properly informed as to the measures they’d need to take in order to safely use them. They’re bags, is there really anything non-intuitive about their use? It seems that there is. They’re meant to be washed on a regular basis, but the people who purchase them don’t seem to be aware of this fact by far as a recent study indicates that as much as 97% of randomly selected interviewees were completely unaware of this health precaution.
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Around the world, the concept of the reusable bag is catching on with gusto. The reasoning may differ from country to country, but the effects seem to be the same: less waste and more money towards environmental causes.
Many people claim that paper is more environmentally friendly than plastic, but the truth is far from that. Paper bags consume over 40% more energy to produce than plastic bags. Paper produces 50%-70% more pollutants than plastic bags in production. Paper bags also can only be recycled 5-7 times, and then the fibers are too short to stick together properly and still be useful. Unfortunately, plastic isn’t the answer. Although they use less energy to produce, they’re made of polyethylene, which is a man-made polymer that microorganisms don’t recognize as food. Essentially they will dissolve over hundreds of years through photoradiation, but that still means they just become tiny granules.
Ireland introduced a plastic bag tax, referred to as the “plastax” in 2002. The tax is now about 33 cents in USD. The money from this tax goes to the environment ministry and is used for enforcement and clean-up projects. The tax had the desired effect of cleaning up all the bags that littered the streets. Their use of plastic bags decreased by 90% or 277 million bags altogether in the first three months! Isn’t that amazing?
Australia followed suit and in 2009 the state of South Australia banned plastic bags as well. They estimated that 400 million bags would be “saved” in the first year. Studies were done previous to the ban that found that reusable bags used only 9% of the energy and 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag use.
As a teacher, I know how much waste a school produces in the name of education – trees give their lives to childrens paper, party cups, paper towels. School-discarded plastic fills the landfill. Markers last a few weeks at best, and their useless carcasses are quickly tossed, and another $2.99 is spent on a new rainbow package without hesitation. I can estimate that one class of kids (25) goes through about 100 disposable pens over the course of the school year. Multiply that by every classroom in the country, and you can see the impact.
The modern teacher will need writing instruments of all varieties: expo pens of all sizes – for white board and small boards, vis-a-vis pens for over heads, permanent markers for labeling, washable markers for kids to use on projects… and this list goes on for number 2 pencils, crayons and colored pencils. As a lifelong environmentalist, it has been very disturbing – and I mindfully double side photocopy when I can.
It seems that is the only thing I can really do to make a difference in my school. How can we not use markers? I have heard that you can buy and insert acetone to prolong the life of a marker, or spin them by their tip to squeeze out some ink, but this effort shows the true purpose of these pens – to be thrown out and replaced. They are the historical universal tool alongside paper for most communication, presentation, and education in school.
When it comes to water bottles, the choices seem endless. By now you probably know all the problems with disposable plastic water bottles, even the so called green bottled water have on the environment, but what about you?
Lately there has been a big deal made of Bisphenol A or BPA. BPA is a estrogen hormone mimicking chemical and has been linked with all kinds of bad stuff, including breast cancer, early puberty, and problems in infants and is found in some surprising places including reusable water bottles and canned fruits and vegetables.
This was a problem with some reusable plastic and aluminum bottles (aluminum water bottles require a liner to prevent corrosion). Fortunately this has been addressed for most of the big name manufacturers including new production models of Nalgene, SIGG and Camelbak.
The best way to choose a water bottle to avoid BPA and other toxins, is to select the right one for your needs and use it correctly. Here are the prevalent reusable container options:
Glass or Ceramic water bottles
Good for hot (when insulated) and acidic items, scratch resistant, durability, longevity
Bad for weight, traveling, impact
Stainless Steel water bottles
Good for hot (when insulated) and acidic items, durability, longevity
Bad for weight
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