So, What About Bottled Water?
By David Wilk
During the dozen years that I have been involved in youth sports as a parent and coach, one of the main tasks I’ve performed after every practice and every game has been to clean up after the kids. What has struck me during all these years is the number of plastic water and sports drink bottles we’ve had to throw away.
In my town and most of the towns where my kids’ teams have played, there aren’t any recycling bins for bottles. We can certainly encourage our towns and leagues to make recycling a priority.
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But there’s actually a much better solution, one that will make a significant impact on our environment, locally and globally: reduce the amount of bottled water and bottled sports drinks our kids consume.
Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it? But there are good reasons why we should find replacements for bottled water and also reduce our consumption of bottled sports drinks. Here’s why:
- Water bottles are made of plastic, and almost all plastics use oil as their base material. We should conserve, not deplete, this precious natural resource.
- Manufacturing those plastic water bottles consumes lots of energy and puts more carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.
- Water is heavy (very heavy: one liter weighs 2.2 pounds!). Shipping all that water in plastic bottles across the country consumes energy and emits lots of carbon into the atmosphere.
- If the average kid drinks one bottle of U.S.-sourced water a day, that adds up to about 10 gallons of gas or diesel fuel a year in transportation and 60 - yes, (60! - pounds of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
- Americans will consume more than 10 billion water bottles this year. More than 80 percent of these bottles are just thrown away and are not recycled. This means about 8 billion bottles every year are added to our waste stream.
- Bottled water costs you more per ounce than gasoline! Why spend your money to buy a commodity you can have virtually for free from your own tap?
Here are a few easy things you can do to make a difference:
- Buy a reusable water bottle for each of your kids. Buy one for yourself. Be a role model and show off your cool new re-usable bottle.
- Talk about bottled-water issues with your kids. Kids care a lot about the environment, and they need to know that they can make a real difference. Tell them that every bottle you buy consumes unnecessary oil and contributes to global climate change.
- If your tap water doesn’t taste good to you, put filters on your faucets. You will be amazed at the difference.
- Pick up empty plastic bottles you see. Make sure they’re all recycled and not just thrown into the trash.
- You don’t have to go cold turkey. Trying to be “pure” or “perfect” just makes changing behavior seem more difficult and ends up being frustrating. Try cutting down on how much bottled water you buy, bring your own containers when you travel, and refill along the way.
- For your team sports, bring a large water cooler and paper cups to each game and practice.
- Try talking to your leagues and schools about this issue, too. Most re-usable bottle companies offer custom logo versions of their products, so your league can actually have its own branded water bottles and sell them at fundraisers.
A lot of these same issues concern bottled sports drinks — they’re mostly water and come in plastic bottles, too. There are plenty of good alternatives to bottled sports drinks, like orange slices, watermelon and other fruits.
I hope this article has been informative and useful to you. Please visit the nonprofit website www.turntotap.com for more information and regular updates about bottled water and the alternatives to its consumption. It’s a volunteer project aimed at making the world a better place for all of us, and you’re welcome to join in.
Think outside the box with your young athletes. Get them using Dynamic Stretches which are part of the PlaySportsTV training plan Speed, Agility & Quicking Training for Kids.
David Wilk lives in Weston, Conn., where he is active in youth sports and environmental concerns.