Our Plastic Planet

Ryen Cinski ’22

Opinions Editor

I am currently enrolled in an environmental science class here at Holy Cross, and over its course I’ve learned many things about the environment that we live in. As someone who has never been science-oriented, it’s been nice to learn and understand concepts that apply to the place that I inhabit and impact each and every day. We recently completed a project that involved making a lifestyle change for ten weeks, then calculating how much energy, water or money you could save. For my lifestyle change, I chose to cut out my use and purchase of plastic water bottles, instead using a Brita, a metal bottle and tap water.

Admittedly, I can be quite lazy at times, so cleaning the bottle and refilling the bottle was sometimes annoying. I stuck with my change for the entirety of the ten weeks though and eventually found the minimal upkeep to be habit. I also found that it was actually easier to use a Brita as I didn’t have to go out to the store every time I ran out of water. Had I not been given this project assignment, I probably never would’ve made the switch.

I am well aware that when you get stuck in a routine, you can be reluctant to welcome change. I can attest to the ease that is not using plastic bottles though, and encourage everyone to try to switch over to a metal bottle. For the final part of my project, I calculated the total energy that I saved by not drinking bottled water for ten weeks. I’ll save you all the math and if you want proof you can e-mail me, but the energy I saved came out to about 316,000,000 joules. This is just for the ten weeks, and if I were to not drink bottled water for an entire year, I would save about 1,643,200,000 joules. That is such an immense amount of energy, and is the combination of many factors that contribute to my plastic water bottle use. Those numbers include the “energy required to produce bottled water, including the energy required to manufacture plastic, fabricate the plastic into bottles, process the water, fill and seal the bottles, transport the bottles, and chill the bottles for use” (phys.org). You may not realize how many steps there are to making your water or how much energy you yourself use when you buy bottled water, but hopefully this can open eyes.

Our planet is our home, a place that we live and thrive upon. Lately, we’ve been damaging it immensely and impacting it negatively in ways that we may not be able to undo. Plastic is extremely harmful to the environment and to the many creatures that live among us. Some plastics never fully break down. Some plastics release toxic chemicals into the ground and water. Some plastics end up in the stomachs of animals, lodged in their nostrils, or wrapped around their throats. By taking simple steps like switching from plastic bottles to metal bottles, you could contribute greatly to the environment concerning energy, pollution, health and safety. I urge you to try to make the switch and contribute to environmental betterment alongside me.

Photo Courtesy of WWF-Australia

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