For Earth Day: Stop buying bottled water and other tips to help the planet

If you want to take care of the planet that takes care of you there are lots of ways you can make a difference. Here are two to start with. Stop buying bottled water

In most places in the U.S. there is no difference between bottled water and tap water. Bottled water takes five to 11 times more water to produce than the bottle holds, a waste of fresh water. Most of that water is used in the filtering process, according to Kathryn Sullivan, former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the government agency that studies Earth’s water stores. That doesn’t take into account the water it takes to make the plastic bottle (twice as much as the bottle’s volume) and the fuel to make the plastic and ship the filled bottles. After you drink your bottled water you then have an empty plastic bottle with an estimated lifespan of 500 years.

Use reusable bags

When the clerk asks, “paper or plastic?” The best answer is neither. Make it a habit to bring your own reusable bag or basket.

Millions of trees are used each year for paper bag production and greenhouse gases are produced creating and transporting them. Plastic bags are made from petroleum products, mainly oil, and no one knows for sure how long it will take for them to break down into tiny pieces. The best estimates are between 15 and 1,000 years. The plastic will still be there, you just won’t be able to see it. The cost to recycle plastic bags outweighs their value, so most recycling facilities will not accept them.

The verdict is still out on whether a reusable cloth or sturdy recycled plastic bag would be better for the environment but either would be preferable to using a bag once and throwing it away. One reusable bag can replace hundreds of plastic bags but only if you use them.

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