At Paper Water Bottle, we focus very closely on the problem of plastic bottles and the part sustainable materials and improved production technique can play in resolving that problem. But of course, it’s not the only topic in sustainability, and, more than that, all such topics are ultimately interconnected. Plastic is made from petroleum, for instance, and so its scarcity can’t be fully understood without attention to energy production.
The good news is that efforts to make energy more renewable have a lot to teach us about our approach to handling materials like plastic. To illustrate the point, let’s look to Burlington, Vermont, and a fascinating story at politico.com. Burlington, a city of more than 40,000 people, gets all its energy from renewable resources. How did they do it? A few thoughts that leap out from the article:
- Don’t lock in on one solution.
Burlington uses a lot of forms of renewable energy, including wind, solar, and hydroelectric. Multiple approaches mean that gaps in one area can be filled by another. You can patch weaknesses in a strategy with the strengths of a different approach. It’s key to solving any of our most intractable problems.
- Make use of what you have.
Half the town’s power comes from burning wood. It’s readily available and grown sustainably. That’s not a solution that works for Albuquerque—but it doesn’t need to. One size does not fit all.
- Encourage small changes.
It’s easy to be captivated by the idea of changing everything at once. Burlington didn’t just look to land big fish, though. They also helped smaller energy consumers change their approach. Lo and behold, those changes really added up—and let the big fish know just what was important to the rest of the community.
When it comes to plastic bottles, we can take much from such successes. For instance, many solutions are better than one, including recycling, reuse, replacing plastic with friendlier alternatives, like a Paper Water Bottle. And, while innovation in areas like plastic additives is important, we need to capitalize on what we already have—like plant fiber, infinitely sustainable, easily shaped to our use, and not a blight on the landscape. And finally, we can each let our producers and retailers know what is important to us, as individuals and as a community. While there are exceptions, companies and markets most often change, like people, one at a time. We just have to remind them that we want A Refreshing Alternative.