Friday, November 19, 2010

Concerns about Martha Woodroof's (and Your) Bottle of Water by Martha Dudley

Recently, during the WMRA fund raiser, Martha Woodroof mentioned that on her way to Lexington she bought a 20 ounce plastic bottle of water.

Well, there are two things I want Martha and everyone else to remember about plastic -- not just the plastic in those ubiquitous water bottles but plastic anything:

First: It never goes away but spends its eternal life in our landfills. In 2008 seventy percent of plastic water bottles went to those landfills. No one seems to be counting how many ended up clogging our waterways, floating in our oceans, and killing marine life.

And second: Plastic is made from the very same oil that spilled so disastrously in the Gulf of Mexico.

Going back to Martha’s bottle of water, it astonishes me that, despite our recent collective angst over that tragedy, many of us still buy so-called “disposable” plastic water bottles. The production of these bottles of water consumes an annual average of 17 million barrels of crude oil. Even if we recycled some of them – and that is not an energy free proposition – the whole point of “disposable” is not to have to bother with them -- much less search around for a recycling bin.

Why, I want to know, do we waste money on bottled water in the first place, when it’s not proven to be any better than that coming out of our taps? Wouldn’t it be cheaper and simpler to buy a nice metal bottle or a plastic one made without Bisphenol A and fill it from the faucet?

If water quality is an issue, there is an assortment of filters to choose among --ranging in price from a few dollars to as much as you might want to spend. If buying water is essential, it can be delivered in large reusable glass jugs. If “being like everyone else” is the motivation, why not lead the fashion pack with a really snazzy reusable water bottle? They come in every color and size imaginable.

Martha Woodroof said that she bought the bottle of water for a dollar fifty. A dollar fifty for 20 ounces of water! Perhaps she was making the point that there are many odds and ends expenses involved in running a radio station. Or that we lavish money on things we value. In either case, a little math proves interesting: if you buy that bottle of water every day for a year, you will spend $547.50. Given the size of Martha’s bottle, about nine dollars a gallon for water.

So – let’s each of us buy a really flashy water bottle and fill it ourselves everyday. We’d be going a long way toward helping our poor beleaguered planet. And we would have over five hundred dollars to contribute to a favorite charity. Perhaps even to our favorite radio station.

                -- Martha Dudley lives in Staunton

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