Visualizing the plastic bottles we use

October 14, 2019

By the time you’re finished reading this sentence, tens of thousands of plastic bottles will have been sold around the world. Last year the UK alone guzzled more than 2.2 billion litres of bottled water. Every hour, close to 55 million bottles are discarded worldwide. These are all made with fossil fuels and produced in massive manufacturing centres with non renewable energy. Each bottle takes more water to produce than it contains. Scroll across for some visuals that put into perspective the immense scale of this waste by comparing it to global landmarks. ⁠

Despite all the attention plastics get, it’s crazy to try and fathom this number. If you haven’t got one already, grab a reusable water bottle and bring it with you everywhere (good for your health too!). This is a consumer action we can control. Companies should also be held responsible for this (check out the Rotten season episode on bottled water). ⁠
Let’s also ensure all our cities and towns have refillable water everywhere. Many countries in Europe are great at that (and the water tastes amazing!) but outside of that, we have all walked around cities for hours without a refill station (or tried to awkwardly jam it into bathroom sinks). ⁠

AND, please remember that many places have absolutely no way of not using plastic bottles. Whether that’s in cities in America or in the Global South. We need to invest in clean water infrastructure in places that don’t have it, stop poisoning the water with lead, other chemicals & run-off, and limit climate change so that we’re not in consistent droughts. In our area in Cambodia we have no running water and the drought earlier this year ran dry all our pots, catchments and rivers (which are flowing with toxins). Even if there had been water, we promise you can’t filter that to make it drinkable. Please remember that during this conversation. We need a multi-prong approach to resolve this.⁠

See all the amazing images from Reuters / Simon Scarr & Marco Hernandez