While researching the qldwater on tap campaign, I read enough journal articles, research papers and books and watched countless documentaries to convince myself that buying bottled water was not the smartest thing to do from a financial or environmental point of view.
My personal experiences go deeper than just literature reviews though – as a family we love spending time outdoors and this is where I have witnessed the environmental impacts of our wasteful nature first hand.
A few months ago on a trip to North Stradbroke Island I was shocked to see the beautiful Main Beach completely covered in plastic waste. It was a day or two after a big storm and all the waste from our SEQ waterways seemed to have ended up on Main Beach. The storm was quite severe and the plastic bottles had already broken down into small fragments of plastic which, together with countless bottle tops, lined the beach as far as the eye could see. This really broke my heart.
It made me realise that perhaps following the three R’s to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle may be a good start, but we can’t stop there. Recycling rates in Australia have certainly improved over the last few years which should be commended, but sadly more than 50% of plastic bottles don’t make it to the recycling plant and end up in landfill or our waterways (According to the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA).
In “Garbage Land – on the secret trail of trash”, author and New York resident Elizabeth Royte followed the journey of her household trash to its ultimate (and often surprising) destinations. She concludes that, although recycling is extremely important, it is not the ultimate answer to our problems. The answer lies not in recycling or purchasing more “green” stuff, but to ultimately consume less.
So let’s add another R – “Refuse” – and give it prime position in front of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
We all know that there are some times when bottled water is the only option available, but more often than not it is chosen for convenience rather than necessity. Refusing bottled water really is an easy choice to make in first world countries like Australia where we have a cheap and healthy alternative on tap, and the more we do it, the more convenient it will become.
Keep a reusable water bottle with your wallet and keys… Get a bigger wallet for the money you will save! In showing our support for tap, we will ensure a sustainable future for our water industry – something we all want, and need.
If you need some more reasons to choose tap, watch this great short film by The Story of Stuff: