Plastic bottles have become a convenience in our fast-paced life, but we need to consider somethings before we grab them.
The first question to be considered is what is the source of the plastic? Traditionally, plastic has been made from petroleum products. This leads to some safety concerns for individuals and the environment. Because of the chemicals involved in plastic production, some bottles are safer than others. When buying a plastic bottle, look for a number and identifying letters. For instance, #1 PET or #1 PETE, #3 BPA, #6 BPA and #7 BPA all contain chemicals that can be leached into the contents of the bottle, such as DEHA, a cancer-causing chemical. Even more dangerous are the BPA (Bisphenol A) bottles. Studies have shown that BPA can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body, leading to neurological problems in fetuses and children, pre-cancerous brain, breast or prostrate conditions and other problems. In 2008, tests showed that 93 percent of the general population had some BPA in their bodies. The bottles labelled as #2, #6 & #7 are safer, but a good rule of thumb is if it tastes like plastic, don’t use it.
You may want to look for plant-based plastic bottles. These bottles are made from renewable crops such as corn, soy, sugar cane and others. They do not have chemical leaching and are easier to recycle after use.
Secondly, how are you going to use the bottle? If you are going to use it with warm or hot liquid, you may be causing some of the chemicals to leach out of the bottle into your liquid, which will be consumed. Even with cold liquids, you need to consider if you are reusing a bottle or not. Trying to save money or being green by reusing plastic bottles can be expensive in the long run, if you do not thoroughly clean them between uses. Poorly cleaned bottles can become a haven for illness-causing bacteria.
Finally, what’s the environmental impact of your bottle? Petroleum-based plastic bottles are estimated to last 1000 years in a landfill. All that time they will be releasing toxic products into the ground or into the air if incinerated. That’s assuming they even make it to the landfill. Many plastic bottles are thrown into waterways and other natural areas, creating a danger for wildlife. Even if recycled, plastic bottles are weaker in every new stage, becoming more likely to release chemicals. At least until they are sent to the landfill for 1000 years.
Plastic bottles can be a great convenience, if you ask yourself these questions before you buy.