Karen Fratti
April 26, 2017 1:39 pm

Everyone, we have a pretty bad drinking problem. Despite what you might assume from “green” packaging, pretty much none of our water bottles are recycled. According to a recent report done by Greenpeace, only 7 percent of new water bottles are made with recyclable plastic. So don’t believe that just because a bottle says “recyclable” that it’s actually going to be turned into something else. Most of our plastic bottles just end up in a landfill, though many are turned into synthetic fibers used in fast fashion clothes, carpets, and yoga pants.

Despite the fact that many companies market their bottles with environmentally friendly packaging and tell their customers to recycle, most of the major soft drink companies use just a combined 6.6 percent of recycled plastic. So they’re making more new bottles with new plastic, made from petroleum. For the record, Coca Cola didn’t disclose its global numbers to Greenpeace for the study, so we don’t know what they use. Either way, those numbers are not good.

Especially since some companies, like Nestlé, do use recycled plastic to make new bottles for their “natural” line of water (yes, really, that’s the name), so companies know it works. But they’re still not using recycled plastics across the board.

Soft drink companies do a lot to put it on the consumer to recycle, but apparently not many are keeping up their end of the bargain. It’s more expensive to recycle plastics into bottles. It takes less energy to turn plastic bottles into synthetic fibers, which is a good thing. Except that once a plastic bottle is turned into an $8.99 t-shirt or a carpet, it won’t be recycled when the person’s done using it. It might get donated, but the fact remains that even most donated clothes end up in landfills.

It’s frustrating, right? That doesn’t mean you should stop recycling or upcycling your stuff. But in addition to separating your trash, choosing to spend your hard earned cash on products from companies that do use recycled materials is another good way to let companies know you want them to be better. You can’t save the environment all by yourself, but rethinking how much plastic — in bottles or clothes — you use is a decent place to start.

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