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 cy­

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