Why are Plastic Bottles Bad For the Environment? The Actual Reasons!

plastic bottle in ocean

As you likely know, many individuals and organizations are attempting to reduce their plastic usage. This is due to concerns that plastic is harmful to the environment.

Yet, many people still buy plastic bottles. After all, if you have forgotten your reusable bottle, they can be incredibly convenient. Plus, they are cheaper than reusable water bottles.

There is a major push among campaigners to reduce the usage of plastic bottles. Why are these products bad for the environment? Why are they being targeted more so than other plastic items? Find out below.

Why are Plastic Bottles Bad For the Environment?

Plastic bottles are bad for the environment for a variety of reasons. These include:

They are Widely Consumed and Produced

Figures regarding the number of plastic bottles produced annually vary. Yet, many have estimated that roughly 480 billion plastic bottles are produced each year. This is a startling statistic.

The reason why so many plastic bottles are made each year is that there is a high demand for them. People regularly purchase these bottles, resulting in more and more being made.

People use these plastic bottles because our society is focused on convenience. Many people prioritize this convenience over environmental concerns. Or they merely don’t have time to consider the environmental impact and so choose the easy option, namely plastic bottles.

They Contain Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Plastic bottles are made using polyethylene terephthalate (PET). What is this? Well, it is a type of polyester used in the production of plastic products. As with many plastics, PET does not break down easily. 

When it breaks down, PET becomes a microplastic that is damaging to the environment. Microplastics contain chemicals, which can affect the body when consumed. Studies have found that these microplastics can cause cell death and damage.

Due to pollution, these microplastics are found everywhere. In fact, they are often found in the ocean. If plastic bottles continue to be made, the number of microplastics in our system will increase.

water bottles

They are Not Always Recycled

Plastic bottles can be recycled. This means that they can be made into different items. Unfortunately, many people neglect to recycle these bottles. Instead, people either litter them or merely put them in a standard trash bin.

When littered, plastic bottles take a long time to fully break down. Research has found that they can take as long as 450 years to decompose. When they break down, these bottles will release microplastics into the environment.

When these bottles are put in standard trash bins instead of recycling them, they will be taken to a landfill. There, these bottles will take even longer to break down. Taking at most a thousand years to decompose, these bottles will release microplastics for a long time. It has been estimated that roughly 80% of plastic bottles end up in landfills!

Another place where these plastic bottles can be found is in the ocean. When found here, these bottles can pose a serious threat to marine life. These innocent creatures can even die due to the excessive traces of plastic in their bodies.

It Takes Tons of Water to Make Them

It sounds a little odd, but loads of water is required to make a water bottle. It has been calculated that it takes approximately 3 times the amount of water in a bottle to make the plastic bottle itself.

As you can imagine, lots of energy is required to produce these plastic bottles. A bottle will need between 4 million and 10 million joules of energy to make. This is significantly more energy than just using a water tap.

empty water bottle on beach

How Can You Reduce Plastic Bottle Pollution?

Once you are aware of why these bottles are so harmful to the environment, you will likely want to stop this pollution. Thankfully, there are some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce the level of pollution caused by plastic bottles. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:

Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle

Though plastic bottles may be cheaper in the short term, reusable water bottles are worth it in the long term. Though plastic bottles can be washed and reused, it is not recommended that you do so as chemical leaching can occur. It is especially important not to reuse your plastic bottles if they have become damaged. 

In contrast, reusable bottles are more durable. In particular, stainless steel bottles are renowned for their sturdiness. You can use them for years, while plastic bottles can only be reused once or twice. Make sure that you get a bottle that is BPA (bisphenol A) free. By doing so, you can stop over 100 plastic bottles from being created.

Buy a Water Filter

These jugs are best placed in the fridge. There, you can keep your water cool, which is ideal for a hot summer day. You can bring these water filter jugs to picnics and other events. As with stainless steel bottles, they are reusable. This makes them incredibly convenient.

Utilize a Water Fountain

Drinking water fountains are found everywhere. They are designed to remove the need for plastic bottles. These fountains allow you to have a refreshing drink of water whenever you need it. You can even use these fountains to fill your reusable bottle if you have run out of water.

drinking fountain with water coming out

Find Environmentally Friendly Packaging

Plastic bottles are not the only items that are bad for the environment. Many products use plastic packaging that is bad for the environment. The products themselves may also contain plastic. 

Toothbrushes often cannot be recycled, despite containing composite plastics. Consequently, many people have started using bamboo toothbrushes, which are more environmentally friendly.

If you want to save the environment, then you should aim to use sustainable packaging and products.

Remember to Recycle

Ideally, you should not use plastic bottles at all. However, if you have misplaced your reusable bottle, you might be forced to buy a plastic one. This is okay from time to time, though you should try to prevent this from occurring. When you buy a plastic bottle, make sure that you recycle it. 

If you are unable to find a recycling bin, take the bottle home with you so that you can recycle it there. Unfortunately, many people do not recycle their plastic, hence why it has become such a big issue for the environment.

Make Others Aware

When it comes to environmental issues, people have a habit of burying their heads on the sand. Luckily, there are several techniques you can use to raise awareness. You can also lead campaigns, such as getting your workplace, school, or university to install drinking fountains.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable campaigning, you can still tell your family and friends about the environmental dangers of plastic bottles.

Final Thoughts

Let’s be honest, we have all used plastic bottles at some point in our lives. Though they are convenient, we should aim to reduce our usage of these bottles. They are ridiculously harmful to the environment. With some easy changes, you can save the environment!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Materials Are Environmentally Friendly?

Ideally, you should use renewable materials. These items can be naturally replaced. Examples of renewable and eco-friendly materials include:

  • Bamboo
  • Straw
  • Reclaimed wood
  • Cork
  • Sheep’s wool

Why Do Manufacturers Use Plastic?

Many large companies continue to use plastic despite its environmental dangers. This is because it is a strong material that can last for a long time. Furthermore, it is versatile and can be shaped into a variety of products.

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