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Going Green -- Water and Water Bottles

Earth Day came and went this week, putting the focus of many people on ways to keep the Earth s cleaner. While many things are big, needing implementation by large companies or on a national level, others are simple. Everyone can ‘go green’, with little effort or cost. All week, various websites collected green tips. By passing ideas on, we can all discover a new way to save the Earth.

Water is a big issue. It seems endless – 71% of the planet’s surface is covered with it – but that thought is deceptive. Water cleanliness and conservation is a big concern. To save water try the following:

Rain barrels are an old idea who have made a comeback in recent years. Simply place a large container outside before the next storm. Water you collect may be used for watering plants. Some people say that by dropping a silver coin in the bottom, the water will remain fresher. At any rate, this is not drinking water, and the barrel should be cleaned out when the container or water starts to look less than desirable.

Toilet bowls can be a sneaky leaky way of losing water without even knowing it. A small leak will cost, both in terms of water consumption and the cost on the water bill. To find out if your tank has a leak, put water-based food coloring in the tank until you can see enough of the dye to know it’s there. After half an hour, check the bowl. If any of the colored water is in the bowl, you have a water leak.

Bottled water has become a big seller in the past couple of decades, and its results are catastrophic. Consumers in the US alone use 51 billion bottles each year. Only one of five are recycled. Recycled bottles are broken down into tiny discs and then spun into polyester fibers. These are used to make anything from tee shirts to carpets, saving a potential of 5 million barrels of oil every year. That could be good news for consumers, if only they would recycle. 70%% of recycled plastic are imported from other countries.

If we import most of what we need in recyclable material, what happens to the 40 million bottles not recycled? They fall on the ground and are washed into streams and creeks, where they make their way into rivers and the oceans. Battered in the waves and tides, they are broken into microscopic pieces and ride the tides until they make landfall on the beaches of the Pacific. There are stretches of beach in Hawaii that are literally covered in plastic, the tiny pieces making it impossible for native plants to survive. Fish mistake the garbage for food. Many naturalists fear starvation for entire species.

The solution? Charles Moore, one of the leading authorities on garbage in the sea, puts it simply. “Source reduction is the only answer.” That comes down to each of us making the choice to recycle.

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