Plague of plastic is hard to avoid
Lately I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed in plastic. About a month ago we went camping in the Pecos and behind everyone’s back seat was a case of bottled water. In the course of three days, four families probably consumed more than 100 bottles of water. When I say consumed that should really be wasted as most of that bottled water ended up getting thrown away in the trash. There were no recycling bins on the campsite and so every single one ended up going to the landfill. Then a couple weeks later our same families got together at Elephant Butte Lake. In that one day alone at least another 50 water bottles had the same fate. A couple weeks later formy daughter’s volleyball tournament, I was one of themoms taskedwith cleaning up the snack table. We threw away dozens of bottles of water, mostly half full, again in the trash.
As I try to imagine one of our family or social events without bottled water, it becomes very clear that the reason bottled water is present at most every function is convenience. Green camping would entail finding containers to haul clean drinking water into the mountains with either water bottles or cups to refill as people became thirsty. The lake would involve the same kind of effort, butwe’d have to carry that onto the boat and then have the heat to deal with. Either way a green event of any sort in which plastic water bottles are not involved is challenging.
In my water-conservation work in the state, there have been several campaigns on informing the public about bottled-water use. The campaigns themselves promote the quality of the utility’s drinking water. Bottled water is regulated by the food and drug industry and drinking water providers must meet the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Safe Drinking Water Act. There are huge differences in the amount of testing and monitoring involved in both.
“Ban the Bottle” is a national campaign that I often reference. There is so much information on the website that after reading through it, it’s impossible not to feel a hint of guilt every time you find yourself drinking one. From the sustainability, conservation end of things, it’s really astounding that nearly 38 billion bottles of water are consumed every year in the U.S. as referenced on their website. The small changes we make really do make a difference in this case.
September in Santa Fe signifies the annual Zozobra event and the Green Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Fe Watershed Association have partnered to make the event bottle water-free with their “Fill the Bottle” campaign. Additionally, event organizers require vendors to use biodegradable products and prohibit the sale of any beverages in plasticwater bottles. In Santa Fe, the community as a whole is really trying to do its part and I’m so happy to be a part of that with the city’s water-conservation work.
Christine Y. Chavez has a background in water rights administration and energy and water conservation program management in the state of New Mexico. She is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a B.S. in environmental science and an M.S. in biology. Christine is the water conservation manager for the City of Santa Fe. She may be reached at 505.955.4219 or email@example.com.