Recently I had the opportunity to attend a showing of Tapped, a documentary about the bottled water industry. The event was put on by Ted Webber as a part of Ringling 10:10 which is a program designed to raise environmental awareness for a week here at Ringling College, where all the events are free to the public.
80 billion was the number etched into my head. 80 billion bottles are thrown out every year. And in the case of plastic, that’s not 100% recyclable, that’s a pretty big number. They actually say you don’t recycle plastic, you down-cycle it.
Something that I found extremely interesting from the film was Nestle, Coke, and Pepsi hold the monopoly over the bottled water industry, Nestle holding the biggest share. If you drink bottled water, there’s a good chance that you’re drinking one of their products. The companies will mine for water (which I had never even heard of before), and there were many instances where Nestle (or the other companies) would trick the local government of a small town into having a higher priority to the town’s own water supply. So the town would be going through a heavy drought season, and Nestle would keep mining away at the water, not caring what happened to the town. There was also another instance where I think Pepsi was getting water from a small lake, and the town people said that they didn’t care if Pepsi used it, but wished that they would at least keep it cleaned up. The lake was littered with pollutants and empty old plastic bottles from people that used the lake.
The documentary also looked at the possibly negative effects of drinking bottled water, going into how the bottles are actually made, and the chemicals it takes to make the plastic. In Corpus Christi, TX there is a town where there were they interviewed a lot of people who had been affected just by living near the local plastic refinery and the toxins they ingest that the factory releases into the air.
After the video, we had a passionate discussion about what we might do to raise awareness, and help combat the waste of plastic bottles. Ted Webber has actually contacted Tervis Tumbler, who donated 1400 reusable (one for each student at Ringling), and is currently trying to find artists at the school here to design something to go on all the cups. The idea is that we would all get a cup (which are advertised as unbreakable and guaranteed for life, I believe), and then incentives would be put around campus to promote using the cups or your own waterbottles over buying new drinks. Incentives might include cheap drink refills etc..All around, it sounds like pretty cool stuff in the works.