Monday, October 20, 2008

A Bottled Water Dilemma

While on my quest be become a greener person, I have given up buying bottled water all-together. I carry water in a reusable Klean Kanteen bottle made from stainless steel. 90% of empty plastic water bottles end up in landfills as trash, even though they are perfectly recyclable. Also, studies show that bottled water is no cleaner that tap water. In some cases the plastic has actually been shown to contaminate water even more. On top of all of that, bottled water is 19,000 times the cost of tap water! How can we justify spending that?!

My system works perfectly well: I re-fill my Klean Kanteen and sweetly encourage others to do the same. The dilemma came when I revisited the New York Road Runners website to confirm my registration for the 5 Mile NYC Marathon Kickoff race in Central Park next weekend. The event is sponsored by one of the largest bottled water manufacturers in the USA, Poland Springs. The partnership makes sense for NYRR: Poland Springs will supply thousands of bottles of water to hydrate thirsty runners after the race.

But how can I strive to be green and still take place in this race? Should I drop out in protest? Run the race and risk feeling like a hypocrite?

I finally resolved to run the race. After all, I am also trying to become a better athlete and this experience will only help my training. I decided though, to contact the NYRR and make sure that there will be recycling bins at the finish area for the discarded plastic bottles. It is one little thing I can do to ensure the recycling of perhaps thousands of plastic bottles.

Here is an excerpt form the email I sent NYRR:

..... I am signed up to run in the October 26 Poland Springs Marathon Kickoff and could not be more excited to take part. However, I wanted to contact you to make sure that there will be adequate recycling receptacles at the race's finish. Since the event is sponsored by a bottled water company, I am sure there will be a great deal of discarded plastic bottles. We all know that disposing of plastic bottles in the trash is extremely wasteful. Current statistics suggest that as much as 90% of plastic bottles end up in landfills as trash. I hope that you have already anticipated this issue and that the runners will find a place to recycle our bottles after the race. Thank you and I look forward to running this weekend!..........

Is there more I can do? Did I make the right choice?

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Heather said...

Wow, such a great point. I am so happy you wrote them a letter. Too many people who are passionate about the green initiative are spending all their time on a soapbox and not enough time acting on their preaching. I know I make a conscious effort to recycle my water bottles (I'm addicted to Trader Joe's Electrolyte Enhanced Water so there's no chance I'd switch to a Canteen lol) but so many people do not. It's so easy to do and if the environment isn't enough of a motivation for you crazy abusers out there, then maybe saving money is! A cleaner earth is a cheaper earth!

Vincent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vincent said...

I can't agree more, I'm not sure if you would have come across this, but there is an interesting gallery titled "Running the Numbers" a few of the images are frightening.