One of the forms of waste that is most notorious for contributing to pollution and litter is plastic. Particularly, plastic bottles. “Plastic bottles and bottle caps rank as the third and fourth most collected plastic trash items in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual September beach cleanups in more than 100 countries” (Parker, Laura). We have all seen the commercials publicizing the risk waste poses to our oceans, and the proper disposal of plastic waste continues to be a significant societal problem. However, more than properly disposing of plastic waste, we need to focus on reducing plastic waste. The reason this needs to be our primary concern is that it is extremely difficult, and at times impossible, to remove plastic from our oceans. According to an article published in Science Magazine in 2015 the “weathering of plastic debris causes fragmentation into particles that even small marine invertebrates may ingest. Its small size also renders this debris untraceable to its source and extremely difficult to remove from open ocean environments, suggesting that the most effective mitigation strategies must reduce inputs” (Jambeck). We also need to be aware that while plastic can be recycled into other products, this can only be done a few times before it must be downcycled instead. In contrast, glass can be recycled an infinite number of times. We need to be aware that once plastic has been recycled it’s maximum number of times, it is a very hard material to break down and, often, it is plastic waste that is damaging our oceans and ecosystems (Iamrenew.com).
Local business owner, Shelly Thiry, wants to draw the attention of the Chadron community to the issue of plastic waste and reduction. Her business, the Fountain of Living Water, is new to our town. After operating out of her home for the past four years, Thiry opened her doors on March 10th, 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, when asked about how she feels about opening during this time, Thiry quoted Ester 4:14: “For such a time as this.”
Thiry’s business supplies Chadron with another option for water refills. Thiry states, “The Fountain of Living Water is a place where people can come in to get healthy products and healthy water. I’m offering more than just tap water; more than just filtered water. I’m offering high alkaline antioxidant molecular hydration.” Thiry commented on the problem of plastics on an environmental level, stating: “We all know that plastic is a huge pollutant. It’s ridiculous. We are responsible. We are stewards of this world and we need to take good care of it.” Accordingly, while Thiry does offer refillable plastic bottles for her customers, she also sells glass jugs, and encourages their use over plastic. One product that Thiry sells is a high PH cleaning water, which allows for a reduction of both plastic waste, and helps to lower the amount of toxins the consumer is introducing both into their body and into the ground water itself, “Cleaning vegetables is one potential use for the water. You don’t have to use harsh chemicals. The high PH water can help to remove pesticides. We have an oil emulsifying water. A lot of the time vegetables, fruits, and nuts are coated with wax. This water is mixed with a tiny bit of salt water, and the high PH of the water helps remove 95-99% of pesticides and it cleans seeds, nuts, tomatoes, and it gives your produce a shot of hydrogen so that your produce lasts longer. So that helps with the environment and reducing food waste. With that water you can also replace your laundry soap.” Utilizing a high PH water in cleaning might be one of the simple swaps we can make toward a lifestyle which incorporates waste reduction.
Thiry is deeply passionate about health and wellness, and wants to call for community awareness about the negative side effects of dehydration, and to increase our knowledge as to the benefits of drinking enough water, “I would like to see people drink more water, we’re chronically dehydrated. There are so many consequences from dehydration. We’re headed into summer. Just drink more water, then you feel better, you live better. You become healthy from the inside out.” Thiry is right, the effects of dehydration on the human body can range from inconvenient (bad breath) to catastrophic (seizures, brain swelling, death). What makes this particularly concerning is that, according to one survey of 1,000 working Americans, 80% of people believe that they are not drinking enough water (Quench).
Thiry would like to encourage the Chadron community to work toward countering that statistic and the amount of plastic waste we are introducing into the environment. She welcomes members of our community into her business with open arms, stating: “Come in, fill your jugs!”
Parker, Laura. “How the Plastic Bottle went from Miracle Container to Hated Garbage.” https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/plastic-bottles/#close
Jambeck, Jenna, et al. “Plastic Waste Inputs from Land Into the Ocean.” Science. Vol. 347, issue 6223. Feb 13, 2015. 768-771.
“Nearly 80% of Americans Say They Don’t Drink Enough Water: Quench Survey.” prnewswire.com. June 19, 2018.
“Recycle Conundrum: How Many Times Can Recyclables Be Recycled?” Iamrenew.com. May 10, 2019.
Stef Glass is the Education Coordinator for Keep Chadron Beautiful. She graduated from Chadron State College with her BA in English Literature and minors in History and Creative Writing in May of 2018.