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One Bottle For Life: An Act Of Global Citizenship

When I first started trying to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle, I mainly focused on the food I bought. But it didn’t take long for me to come across the topic of the immense plastic use that exists all over our beautiful world. Trying to avoid producing a lot of useless waste myself, I realized how much plastic has already taken over my daily life. But it’s not just me! I can tell you that this applies to every country I have seen so far.

Birds swallow plastic and other debris and meet a cruel end.

In terms of ecology, I’ve found that industrialized countries, like Germany (where I am from), are usually the opposite of a role model. The list is so long, I don’t even know where to start. From dumping 50% of our food everyday to wasting water, particularly drinking water, along with the immense amount of energy we consume, we’re enmeshed in a system that strives for more – faster – bigger.

But as I traveled, I also realized what we have achieved in Germany. When I went to Ghana for six weeks, there was one thing that stood out for me: the exorbitant use of plastic absolutely everywhere. I started to go deeper into this topic.

Did you know that plastic takes about 500 years to decompose?! An island of plastic in the North Pacific, called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is the world’s largest landfill, and it floats in the middle of the ocean. Estimates of size range from 700,00 square kilometers to more than 15,000,000 square kilometers, possibly “twice the size of the continental United States”. This plastic affects the fauna and flora of the sea profoundly. More than 260 different species are victims of this pollution – their death rates vary but are all cruelly high. 

My final eye-opening moment was watching “Bottled Life”, a documentary about Nestlé’s perfidious business with water. The company is using up precious natural water resources to create and commercialize “new” water. This way, the company creates dependence on bottled water, in particular, where public water supplies are close to collapse, and notably in developing countries. Many people are left with destroyed ground water resources and without money to buy the bottles their water has been used to fill. There are many more reasons why this business with a supposedly free natural resource is a very important topic in today’s world, and I can only recommend you to start reading a bit about this or watching the film!

Eva’s bottle hard at work while she takes a well-deserved break!

With that in mind, I knew the unavoidable next step: to stop using plastic water bottles. Instead, I bought myself a steel bottle with the idea of “one bottle for life”. And until now, I can tell you that we are living a very happy and harmonious life together! Over here in Peru, where I now live, people often come up to us and ask us how this strong relationship came about. It surprises me to see how unusual the sight of a reusable bottle is for many people! 

My explanations often trigger astonishment, but I also get the impression that people actually think about it beyond our conversation. It’s nice to see how you can initiate this discussion without having to be the “moral smarty-pants”.

That I am actually saving quite a bit of money as well is a very welcome side effect. And, most of the time, when everybody runs into the next supermarket to buy fresh water, I wander off looking for a place to refill my own bottle, discovering new places and getting to know a lot of people, I can tell you!

Furthermore, using a steel bottle is a lot healthier. Studies have found that the chemicals used to produce a plastic bottle are linked to breast and uterine cancer, an increased risk of miscarriage, decreased testosterone level and more.

There are so many beautiful reasons to start taking responsibility for our actions, and for me, part of this is as easy as using a reusable bottle!

–by Eva Junge