Bottled water putting environment at risk

BY CHELSEA OWUSU

For most people, bottled water is a convenient option, but doing so may put our environment at risk.

The 50 billion water bottles consumed globally every year have had damaging effects to landfills.

“The production of plastic water bottles requires electricity, fossil fuels and water, which all result in contributing significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions each year,” says Wai Chu Cheng, coordinator for the Office of Sustainability at Sheridan.

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Water bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a recyclable plastic. However, this plastic is not biodegradable. Instead, PET is broken down into smaller particles over time.

The particles from PET absorb toxins that can potentially pollute waterways, soil, and food animals consume.

“When plastic bottles are sent to landfills, it will take hundreds of years to break it down. A lot of the bottles end up in our lakes, rivers and oceans,” says Cheng.

Approximately 80 per cent of plastic bottles end up in landfills where they never degrade.

The fossil fuels that go into manufacturing the water bottles are polluting the environment at an increasing rate. It is harming our air, water, and land, leaving newer generations to clean up our mess in the future.

This problem has forced environmentalists to begin creating solutions that may help the environment.

“The plastic bottles can be shredded into flakes for making clothing fibre. They can also be melted and moulded into new products,” says Cheng.

The plastic from water bottles can also be used to make household items such as carpet and gardening tools.

There are alternatives for people who drink bottled water on a regular basis.

“Avoid buying and using bottled water as it is not necessary. The best way is to bring your own reusable bottles,” says Cheng.

More than 80 Canadian cities restrict the use of bottled water, including Montreal.

Although Sheridan has not restricted the use of plastic bottles, there are several water filling stations around campus to promote the use of reusable bottles.

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