Plastic Water Bottle Caps: Public Enemy Number One

Earth Day 2019 is fast approaching, and its theme, Protect Our Species, got me thinking about how I can personally do more. I’m fortunate to live near the Monterey Bay in California and I have adopted a section of Manresa Beach that I clean a few times per week. It’s a rewarding effort, but it also allows me to see first-hand the devastating effects we are causing our oceans and beaches through plastic pollution. Let me tell you about my personal public enemy number one: plastic water bottle caps.

Now, you might be scratching your head as to why that would be at the top of my list, but if you did beach cleanups, you would understand. I cannot tell you how many plastic water bottle caps I have picked up over the years, but it would have to be in the thousands. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other disagreeable items I’ve cleaned up from the beach, like cigarette butts, shotgun shells and even needles, but it’s the bottle caps that really get to me. They are almost indestructible and float over long distances. I know I’m not alone in my hatred for them. In fact, on the Midway Atoll, thousands of miles from the nearest city, a beach cleanup picked up nearly 5,000 bottle caps. 1

I often wonder as I’m picking up the bottle caps, what happened to the bottles? Did the bottle get recycled? (At one time, the advice was to separate the cap from the bottle as they are two different plastic materials.) Or is the bottle sitting at the bottom of the ocean slowing breaking into micro-plastics and becoming part of the huge ocean garbage gyres? This infographic shows how long it takes for plastic to break down in the ocean. Spoiler alert: that plastic bottle will be there often centuries after you discarded it.

But the thing that really gets to me is that there is a huge business in bottling and selling water that you can simply bottle yourself from your own tap. Admittedly there are places in the world that the water is not safe to drink. But the last time I checked, my localities are not on the list of bad water locations. In fact, we have great water. But you would never know it by checking the trash and recycle bins at our local parks, stadiums and playgrounds as they are full of disposable water bottles. I bet you didn’t know that bottled water is about 2,000 times more expensive than tap water2 and it has a huge carbon footprint. It takes fossil fuel and energy to create the plastic bottle and water is heavy to transport, which means even more fossil fuels to deliver the bottled water to your local store.3 All of this creates more air pollution and climate change. So, unless you’re living in Flint, Michigan, save your money and the environment by using the drinking fountain or bringing your own reusable water bottle. 

At Avaya, we have partnered with an environmental organization, Save Our Shores, to spread awareness about this issue of plastic pollution that is threatening the health of our oceans, rivers, lands, and beaches. We created this simple video that describes the problem and provides some answers to what each of us can do to be a part of the solution. Cement your resolve to curb plastics by sharing it with us on Twitter using @Avaya and the hashtag #AvayaSaveOurShores.

And if you would like more ideas on reducing plastic waste, here is an article from National Geographic. And don’t forget your reusable water bottle and trash bag when you head off to the beach- picking up trash is great exercise and you can even post your picture here. Don’t forget, you’re not just saving our shores or saving the ocean… you’re also helping to Protect Our Species.

1 https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/plastic-bottle-caps

2 https://pacinst.org/bottled-water-consumption-on-the-rise/

3 https://pacinst.org/news/352/

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