I do not get this at all. More than half of all disposable plastic bottles in Canada are bought for in-home use. Home: the place where you have a tap and a kitchen cupboard full of glasses. And possibly a Brita in the fridge if you want your water to taste good. (After all, in Toronto, our tap water is kind of chlorine-y.)
Brita Canada has partnered with artist and National Geographic Explorer Asher Jay who created Niagara Now, a curving, 12 ft high, walk-through interactive art piece at Toronto’s Union Station. Meant to resemble Niagara Falls, it's made of 900 suspended bottles, the exact number that are discarded in Toronto every five minutes.
“Sales of bottled water are exploding. People know they need to drink more water and consume less sugar so they’re migrating into water,” says Matt Kohler, VP Marketing, Brita Canada. “Bottled water is so convenient and cheap, that most consumers think ‘it’s a little wasteful, but the bottles are recyclable so it’s ok.’ But the reality is most of those bottles don’t get recycled."
Many of them end up in landfill (estimated to be up to a shocking 63%) and a lot of them end up in oceans, lakes and rivers. “Twenty-two million pounds of plastic go into the Great Lakes each year,” adds Kohler. “By 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.”
The Niagara Now exhibit contrasts that torrent of discarded bottles with one Brita Longlast Filter ($24.97 CAD at walmart.ca and $16.99 USD at target.com) that can purify the equivalent of those 900 cascading bottles.
(Life tip: make sure your spouse or roommate is the sort of stand-up person who will refill a Brita and never return it to the fridge empty. This is an excellent personality test for a future partner. You’re welcome.)
And while one can argue that industry as a whole needs to change and the onus shouldn’t be on the individual, this is one area where small choices can create demonstrable change. Forgoing those annoyingly flimsy disposable bottles for a carry-along bottle can replace 1,800 plastic planet-killers per year. (A sleek Brita Premium Filtering Bottle, coming in May, in Canada but already available in the US, has its own charcoal filter.)
“When it’s all doom and gloom, people retreat,” says Kohler. “But when you say ‘Hey. These small choices can make a huge difference” things happen.”
Asher Jay’s installation is beautiful and meditative as you walk through it, a hopeful contrast between thoughtless consumption and the artist’s belief that “we are capable of immense change in a short period of time. The minute we hold ourselves accountable, what can’t we solve?”
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Do you carry a re-useable water bottle with you?