Water Bottles – Plastic or Glass?

090127_waterbottles_200.jpgSeeing the water bottles beside my guest and me in Peak Moment episode 139, a viewer expressed concern that using plastic water bottles sends the wrong message to our audience, especially since our programs are about lightening our eco-footprint.

She’s absolutely right. Throwaway plastic bottles are apt symbols for our throwaway consumerist culture, a lifestyle which itself needs to be thrown away for good — for our good, and the planet’s good.

I’m happy to report that those bottles are glass, and they’ve been refilled with water dozens of times.

Even though I wasn’t alive during the Great Depression, “waste not, want not” just makes sense to me. Plus, re-using has creativity, imagination and resourcefulness in it!

So in our household, nearly anything Robyn and I can think of that might have a second life, does. I wash and re-use not only these glass bottles, but also aluminum foil and plastic produce bags. (I’d like to try mesh fabric produce bags, but until this plastic bag supply is gone, I’ll re-use them. That may be awhile, though. We get — who knows? — maybe 10 or 20 uses before a bag deteriorates and gets recycled).

The list goes on. Laundry or shower rinse water is caught in 5-gallon buckets for flushing the toilet. Even TP (toilet “pee” paper) joins with other non-recyclable papers as “burnables” for starting the winter woodstove fire.

I suppose it’s my version of the golden rule, expanded from the human to the greater-than-human world: giving those objects or materials as full a life as possible before they’re transformed into the next form, which is recycled or composted wherever possible. Mimicking ecological processes where we can.

Still, for taping the Conversations, we’ll try to use water glasses instead of the glass bottles where we can (or hide the bottles from view when we’re in situations where water glasses aren’t available). But be assured, conscientious viewer, that throwaway plastic bottles are a no-no for us, too. And we’re glad you brought it to our attention.


  1. I think that the bulk of our household garbage is modern packaging — and worse, it’s plastic that isn’t recyclable. We try to buy foods in bulk, don’t buy a lot of packaged goods, but those hardware and electronic products with heavy plastic packages, sometimes on (recyclable) cardboard are just impossible. Another symptom of lower societal trust (increased theft protection), long-distance transport (less damage, I’m sure). When it’s all recyclable or biodegradable, we’ll be a step ahead.

  2. Stuart M. says:

    Dear Janaia,

    Living here in Japan, I am totally frustrated with all the plastic packaging. Even individual cookies in a bag of cookies have a plastic wrapper around each one. Any trip to the grocery store means bringing home countless plastic bags and trays for fruit and vegetables. I reuse the plastic bags, but the trays end up in the “blue bag” with all the other recyclable plastics. I guess the consumer demands bruise-free fruit and vegetables which are in some cases shipped from far away, so the plastic trays are a “necessary evil.”

    It’s a bit off topic and dated, but I found this posting over at POWERSWITCH by an Argentinian who describes the total breakdown in “civilization” that happened in Argentina when the economy collapsed. I am usually not one for assuming worst-case-scenarios, but this one really made me think.


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