How many plastic bottles do you think have ever been produced? I tried looking up this figure but couldn’t find it, but I did find that we’ve produced over 9 billion tons (8.3 billion metric tons) of plastic, ever. That’s the equivalent of 80 million blue whales.
I’m guilty of this, as I’m sure you are too, or have been at some point in your life, where you’ve gone out for the day and got thirsty. The logical thing your brain wants you to do is quench your thirst so you’ll go find the nearest vendor for a quick beverage. More often than not that drink will be packaged in a plastic bottle. I remember I was heading to the gym one time and forgot my reusable d.stil water bottle I received with my CAUSEBOX so I went to the nearest CVS to look for a beverage. Keeping in mind I wanted to purchase something in a glass bottle, I scoured the refrigerated section only to find beverages packaged in plastic bottles. Since I was going to the gym, my options were limited and I didn’t really want to buy a sugary beverage like the Arizona teas that are sometimes found in canned packaging, and there were definitely zero water bottles with sustainable packaging. What’s a consumer to do when our options in stores are limited to 90-something percent plastic bottle options?
I appreciate the fact that there are innovators looking into sustainable options, such as the edible water bubbles, or plastic-free water bottles, and others that use Tetrapak cartons that can be recycled at certain facilities. They’re thinking in the right direction and moving away from plastic to more eco-friendly options!
A few months back I discovered that one of my favorite beverage companies Snapple had gone backwards on the trend to #BeatPlasticPollution. They started manufacturing plastic bottles! I was in total shock because I usually could rely on Snapple to be the only beverage in stores in glass containers that I could safely purchase and feel like I’m not making as big of a carbon footprint. I had a conversation on Twitter with someone who handles their social media handle and the default answer they gave me as well as other consumers who criticized their packaging decision was in a nutshell:
The new plastic bottles were made to give our fans a more convenient and lightweight product that is still 100% recyclable. For our fans that prefer glass bottles, they will continue to be available in 6 and 12 packs!
I’m still not sold on this new packaging and I won’t be supporting Snapple anymore unless they stop producing their plastic bottles.
So, what do we do about these limited choices for sustainable beverage packaging choices? Make your voice heard! Call companies like Snapple out on social media for not being progressive, email and call marketing/PR offices and headquarters to ask about new developments for eco-friendly alternatives to the ever-present plastic bottles, and put your wallet where your mouth is! The best thing you can do is send a message to companies by supporting brands that do use sustainable packaging because consumer trends are always tracked, and supply will meet demand in due time.
Another great way to reduce your plastic bottle consumption is to carry your own reusable water bottle that you can fill up wherever you go. Many stores will fill up your bottle free of charge, and that way you do not have to worry about scouring the aisles of drug stores to find a non-plastic bottled beverage!
Check out my series “A Consumer’s Struggle for Sustainable Packaging” on Medium.