21 January 2011

Ban the bottle!

The plastic bottles used to hold water are a much bigger problem than milk, cordial and soft drink bottles. I'm so glad everyone is drinking more water but there has to be a better way.

From today, the University of Canberra is joining Bundanoon in a ban on plastic bottles.  It's estimated this will stop a whopping 140,000 plastic bottles going to landfill each year. The ban will be phased in gradually and fully in place by the end of March this year. 

The University has spent the summer break installing bubblers around campus. Remember them? Old fashioned miniature fountains that you put your mouth over to catch a drink? And in a first for Australia, they have installed a unit that dispenses chilled flat or sparkling water on-tap into your own container (for a small fee of course). It's a far cry from the bubblers and troughs of my school days!

Drink bottles have come a long way since I was at school too. Back then they were white plastic with a screw-top lid that always leaked, no matter how hard we screwed it up or how well the bottle was wrapped in newspaper to stay cold.

Today we all have stainless steel water bottles we carry with us. Mine is a rather bright lime green, Hannah's is hot pink. The boys and Wayne are really boring - black, blue and red. Everyone is responsible for cleaning and re-filling their own bottle and it's a system that works well for us. Hannah re-fills hers are recess and lunchtime and keeps it on her desk at school. I keep mine on my desk to remind me to drink more water and it works, I get my 8 glasses a day.  My mother has a cute little bright orange steel water bottle she carries on her walks - it only holds 300ml, and is just the right size for her to carry on her daily stroll.

Back in 2007 I did some sums (you can read the whole article here):

* 1 x 750ml bottle per day @ $2.32 = $846.80 a year
* 750ml per day x $0.01/per litre = $2.73

Even paying $15 for an unbreakable, insulated water bottle you will save at least $825 the first year. And $850+ a year from then on. That's a good portion of tuition for a year (I know, I've just seen the bill for Thomas' first year at uni, and AJ's will arrive in the next few weeks).

Water is the cheapest possible drink and yet millions of Australians pay exorbitant prices to buy it in a plastic bottle, which they then throw away. Bottled water costs Australia about a half a billion dollars a year - yes, you read that right. Half a billion dollars! Imagine the good that money could do for flood relief. Or if it was used for hospitals, schools or public transport. Why is it we are so prepared to pay $850 a year for bottled water, but are reluctant to give that much in cash to those less fortunate?

Lets hope students embrace the opportunity to save some money and get their fill of clean, fresh water for nothing. And good on the University of Canberra for taking such a bold step.

If you are one of the many who habitually buy bottled water, perhaps now is the time to invest in a good, unbreakable water bottle of your own and re-fill it with tap water. And stop 140,001 plastic bottles going to landfill this year.


  1. http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

    The little video (linked above) is a must watch on bottled water. I'm taking it to school to show my students how advertising works to trap us into thinking we 'need' stuff. Never buying bottled water again.

  2. I used to always carry a collapsible cup when my lot were toddlers, but these days you cannot safely refill at the park toilets as a lot of them have warm water for handwashing.
    We all shared that cup and no one became sick from it.
    Now I carry a 300 ml bottle of water that is filled at home .


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