The PATHWATER student ambassador program is designed to empower students in the fight against single-use plastics
Our PSA team supports youth on campus, online with education, petitions to ban single-use plastic bottles, and monthly challenges where students can educate their friends, families, peers, teachers, while they are learning themselves. Recently, Kira, a student from Connecticut, contacted our team to get insight into the current state of the single-use plastic bottle crisis. She's on a mission to ban single-use plastic bottled water in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. You can support her ban by signing here: GreenwichBottlesNoMore.
We wanted to share our Q&A with Kira so anyone who has similar questions can finally get some insight.
Kira: What do you think the situation with plastic water bottles is right now?
PATHWATER Team: Plastic water bottles have been used since the 1950s and then used more rapidly starting in 1989 when the technological innovation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic was introduced, (which is now the primary plastic used for water bottles). Since the cheap plastic that is immortal has become mas adopted and now completely invasive to our packaging, we have become reliant and misled about it being reliable, convenient, and safe. Now our society has become inundated with single-use plastic water bottles, making it hard to switch to a better solution. Also, in this short time frame consumers were unaware of the environmental effects it has had. Manufacturers and beverage companies on the other hand, such as Coca Cola, were well aware of the issues plastic bottles posed. You can read more about that in our blog in the section Reason #2 High-profit margins… Do Plastic Water Bottles REALLY get Recycled?
Kira: Is it getting worse?
PATHWATER Team: It is getting worse. Sustainable companies such as PATHWATER have only risen in the last 2-3 years, plastic bans have been added to bills, influencers and celebrities have voiced their concerns and created foundations, yet it is still not enough. The leading producers of plastic are still way outselling any alternative, and education for consumers has not spread wide enough yet.
Kira: Is it getting better?
PATHWATER Team: While more plastics are still being sold, people are starting to wake up and are implementing bans on single-use plastic water bottles and single-use plastics in general. In fact, we’ve drafted a petition of our own to help phase out single-use PET in California. You can help us by signing and sharing with your class here. With more truly sustainable companies like PATHWATER offering genuine solutions to this crisis and generations like yours taking a lead, we hope to see this tide turn in the right direction.
Kira: What do you think is the biggest reason why people continue to pollute our Earth?
PATHWATER Team: I think the biggest aspect of why people pollute is because pollution =
1) Profits to someone else (kind of like pharmaceutical companies profit by people being sick).
2) There’s a lack of education, awareness, and convenience. The truth is most people have no idea that there is a floating island of plastic in our ocean, or how many marine animals die each year from pollution. They are not aware that it takes 700 years to break down plastic and that every piece of plastic ever made still exists today. Plastic water bottles have become an incredible, and reliable convenience, and when a habit is so deeply integrated into a routine it is extremely hard to break.
Kira: What are some of the most common types of plastics you see?
PATHWATER Team: Single-use plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bags, produce bags, straws, plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, party plastic. You can check out our blog on all the different types of plastic and see how much is produced for each different type: What are the 7 Types of Plastic?
Kira: Are plastic bottles one (of them)?
PATHWATER Team: Absolutely, it may be the biggest culprit. Do Plastic Water Bottles REALLY get Recycled?
Kira: How do you think people are doing with trying to stop this issue?
PATHWATER Team: Most people want to do the right thing. When introduced to PATHWATER, most people will make the obvious decision to choose a more responsible bottled water. Does this mean those same people will march to their local government and demand a ban on single-use plastics? Often, no, they won’t. So it’s up to us to educate more and more people and start a revolution that everyone can get behind so that we are all passionate about getting our government to responsibly ban single-use plastics. That’s why we constantly talk about these issues and we get involved on and in community and government levels to get more people behind this movement.
Kira: How do you think organizations, especially you, are doing trying to stop this issue?
PATHWATER Team: PATHWATER was created with one mission-- to end single-use plastic. So we created a sustainable alternative to a plastic water bottle -- a reusable bottle made out of aluminum which is one of the most abundant metals and is the easiest to recycle. Our bottle has a BPA free liner made out of polypropylene, and is sold for less than $3.00. Aside from the bottle itself, we have created the PATHWATER Student Ambassador program that allows students to sign the petition to ban plastic water bottles from being sold at their school. We then hold pop-ups and assemblies to educate students and faculty on the widespread effects of plastic. PATHWATER is partnered with like-minded celebrities and influencers to spread the word on the plastic crisis, build foundations, and make PATHWATER as available to everyone, everywhere, as possible. We are trying our hardest but we need HELP. This is a revolution and we need all the momentum possible to truly change the way our world thinks and acts.
Kira: Do you think the governments are doing anything about it?
PATHWATER Team: In California we applaud our legislators for the State Assembly Bill AB1080 which would enact the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. AB1080 and SB54would attempt to establish policy goals of the state that, by 2030, manufacturers and retailers achieve a 75% reduction of the waste generated from single-use packaging and products offered for sale or sold in the state through source reduction, recycling, or composting. However, this bill does not include PET plastic which of course means single-use plastic water bottles. It is a great step forward but it is not enough, it is our goal at PATHWATER to get a petition of 100,000 signatures signed, in order to include PET plastic. Read more!
Kira: Are you trying to raise awareness or trying to remove the plastic from the ocean?
PATHWATER Team: Absolutely, we use our voice to educate and raise awareness. We do this as efficiently as we can through our digital marketing efforts, blog posts, PSA program, and our investors and partners. We hold beach cleanups and donate as much product as we can to various events to prevent plastic from being used and entering the ocean.
Kira: Do you think more people are becoming more aware about this issue?
PATHWATER Team: Yes, we are seeing accelerated damage to our planet and with that comes more news reports and people documenting these issues around the world by video and photo.
Kira: What places of the world are the least aware about this issue or are the least on taking action?
PATHWATER Team: The countries that benefit the most from this plastic crisis are the ones taking the least action and doing the most harm, like the United States and Canada. Interestingly enough, the countries that are getting the brunt of the harm from plastics are coming together and doing more to solve it. For example, Mexico and Costa Rica have started to implement country-wide bans. The United States has lagged far behind many international environmental policies intended to help clean up our planet and the plastics crisis.
Kira: How do you think the United States overall is doing with this issue?
PATHWATER Team: The United States is one of the worst offenders. We ship our plastic trash to other countries, mostly in Asia and Southeast Asia. We’ve been so negligent about plastic that China had to stop accepting our poorly cared for plastic recyclables because they were ending up so contaminated they couldn’t be recycled. You can learn more about this issue here: China's Ban on Bad Plastics, a Chance to Fix the Single-Use Plastic Mess in the U.S.
Kira: Are they trying to help?
PATHWATER Team: No, the U.S. is not helping with environmental issues as a government. However, people and companies who live here are creating solutions and trying to drive change despite the lack of governmental support. Also, some states are starting to help, like California, by implementing a phase-out of single-use plastics.
Kira: Not doing anything?
PATHWATER Team: On the federal level, nothing. On the state level, there is some action but still mostly nothing.
Kira: Would it help if we slowly start banning plastic water bottles?
PATHWATER Team: It would be best if we rapidly started banning single-use plastic water bottles. But one ban at a time will build momentum to get us where we need to be. It would be best for entire countries to implement a ban.
Kira: Tell me a bit about plastic bottles and your opinion on them:
PATHWATER Team: Absolutely, we’ve taken the time to really lay out our opinion on plastic bottles in our blog Do Plastic Water Bottles REALLY get Recycled?
You might also find these resources helpful:
Are you ready to fight plastic? Sign the petition against your school’s single-use plastic water bottles. Then, become a PATHWATER Student Ambassador!