So, as I've been collecting all those lowly discarded and forgotten water bottles, and simultaneously learning about the stupefyingly low rates of plastics "downcycling" (can't fairly call it recycling when it isn't possible to make a new plastic bottle out of an old plastic bottle) - I'm increasingly aware of the seemingly small amounts of water droplets that are in every single one of these plastic bottles.
Nevermind that all those once pristine droplets of water would now likely test positive for little things like estrogenic activity and phthalates (particularly after exposure to sunlight and warm temperatures while stored in a polyethylene terephthalate (plastic) bottle) - What I'm grappling with here, is that the majority of those water droplets are being taken out of the water equation. Permanently.
For the first time in the history of ever, water is being taken out of the water system.
Hey, let's math!
The U.S. consumes 50 billion plastic water bottles annually.
According to the Container Recycling Institute, roughly 86% of plastic water bottles in the United States go to landfill each year.
Looking at several of my collected plastic water bottles, let's be conservative and say that each one has 40 drops of water still clinging to the sides (I easily count 20 generous "drops" in the small section of a water bottle pictured above).
86% of 50 billion = 43 billion (plastic water bottles going to landfill annually)
43 billion x 40 drops of water = 1,720,000,000,000 (1 trillion, 720 billion) drops of water
1 gallon = 75,708.24 drops
This means that every year, more than 22 million gallons of water get locked within these bottles, and buried beneath tons upon tons of garbage, where it will eventually be sealed in an anaerobic tomb that is the modern day landfill, for the rest of time.
22 million gallons, or 33 olympic sized swimming pools worth of fresh water,
At the barest MINIMUM
Permanently lost to toxic landfill tombs every year.
IN THE UNITED STATES ALONE.