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Many empty water bottles. Shallow DOF.

As water bottles fill up our landfills, it will cause more hazardous waste and consume useable land, which will affect our quality of life for now and for the future generation, Kim writes. (PhotoBucket)

To gear up for Earth Day, April 22, 2013, I wrote a column about “Water Bottles”.  This is a repost of my latest column for EthicsDaily.com

Raising children means packing school lunches, including a drink. Water is always a safe and preferred choice, but our household dilemma is how to send water with them.

We often use water bottles, preferably reusable ones, which can be purchased in the supermarket.

These bottles, whether reusable or disposable, have become a way of life for many of us today. I see water bottles everywhere. People cannot seem to drink simply from a cup using filtered tap water.

It is not unusual to be served a bottle of water at friends’ homes, schools, churches and anywhere people are gathered. Reusable, washable cups have seemed to disappear. It appears we can only drink water from a bottle.

It seems that we have forgotten that water didn’t come in a bottle, and that we can get water from a water fountain, kitchen sink or from a filtration jug. So why the necessity of water bottles?

We seem to have fallen into a lifestyle of comfort, ease and convenience, where disposable dining ware is preferable to reusable items.

We think that washing cups is a huge ordeal, that bottled water is cleaner and safer than tap water (this may be true, but only in certain places around the world). We think our bright red, disposable cup is cheaper to throw away than to spend money on hot water, soap and the special brushes needed for some glasses.

Perhaps we just like to throw things out after use. But where are all these water bottles ending up?

In 2008, Americans drank an average of 215 bottles of water per person. Roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills every year. That is roughly 140 million every day – enough bottles to reach China and back.

Since many never visit or actually see a landfill, we feel that we are not contributing to it.

We live with a mentality of “out of sight, out of mind” and have become so complacent and so busy that we rarely stop to think of the damage that we are causing the planet Earth.

Water has become commercialized and we are sending 1 billion water bottles a week around the U.S. This is causing pollution in the production process as well as in shipping bottles across the country.

The environmental impact is huge. Plastic takes more than 700 years to decompose, and the amount of oil used to produce water bottles yearly could fuel more than 1 million cars for a year.

As we continue to use disposable plastic bottles, we are neglecting to be good stewards of the earth.

We need to get back to the basics and start using glasses that we can wash and reuse. We need to understand that filtering tap water is clean and efficient.

We need to start teaching our children these things as our silence and neglect will just continue to harm the environment.

We have to raise children to understand that water didn’t always come in a bottle. It is a human invention to make our lifestyles easier, but the invention came with a heavy price.

Excessive use and disposal of plastic bottles will continue to slowly destroy our environment, unless diligence is exercised in recycling and in selective use for people with communicable diseases.

The reverse of our damage will not take effect unless we stop our destructive habits.

As water bottles fill up our landfills, it will cause more hazardous waste and consume useable land, which will affect our quality of life for now and for the future generation.

So, the next time we feel the urge to buy disposable water bottles, think about the pollution and waste it causes the planet Earth, which was created by God and should not be polluted or defiled.

We need to be mindful of our habits and turn to ways of good stewardship and sustainable ways of living.

Water is a gift from the earth. It shouldn’t be bottled up. It should flow freely so that all may enjoy it in the future.

[read also: “Colonialism, Han, and the Transformative Spirit” & Cruise Ship’s Misery Mirrors Earth’s Plight]

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blog1Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Associate Professor of Doctrinal Theology and the Director of the MATS program at Moravian Theological Seminary. She is the author of Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave Pivot), The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press).

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