What We Really Need Is More Plastic Bottles

October 2015 Brady L. Kay

Do you get a facial tic when you see empty water bottles floating in the water?

Do you grind your molars when you see piles of discarded bottles scattered on the beaches of your favorite lake?

Does it make you sick to your stomach when you read the number of plastic bottles produced every year has increased yet again?

Not me. I want more plastic bottles. I want them everywhere. The more the better. If we could get enough empty plastic bottles, maybe we could create a walking bridge from State Dock to Jamestown Marina on Lake Cumberland! Who’s with me?

I used to be like you. I used to curse the fact that empty plastic bottles are taking over every square centimeter of our waters. That is, until I finally came to my senses and realized that it’s never going to change and I should just accept that trash that piles up in our waterways is just part of boating.

As boaters, we need to plaster outside the box here! Let’s get creative and figure out more ways we can help litter our beaches and houseboating lakes. You think floating logs from the spring runoff are challenging for your boat driving skills? Think about how much fun we could have with some type of an obstacle course for houseboaters to navigate as we avoid hitting piles of empty plastic bottles floating near our propellers. Isn’t this why we installed our thrusters in the first place?

Okay, please forgive the sarcasm. I was just afraid that if I led off my column with something like, “Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times,” you might just dismiss me as a tree hugger and flip the page. I drive a diesel pickup truck to work each day so my neighbors already think I’m an environmental terrorist, so before you slap any label on me please understand I’m simply just a concerned boater who is tired of seeing trash in the water—especially plastic bottles.

The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year and on average 50 percent of the plastic we use is just used once and then thrown away. But don’t worry. It only takes about a thousand years or so for plastic to degrade so I’m not exactly sure why everyone is so uptight about this. Whoops, sorry again. I must be in a sarcastic mood today.

Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year. Can you believe that? I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that a bottle of water is just as expensive as a lot of regular drinks at most marinas. If I would have told you 20 years ago that we would be paying for water you wouldn’t have believed me. It wasn’t too long ago when plastic bottles didn’t even exist and all we had were those glass bottles that would at least sink and end up on the bottom of the lake to provide a habitat for aquatic life—or at least that’s how we’d justify it when we would watch some idiot littering off the back deck of his boat.

I doubt I’ve provided any information that you didn’t already know. However, my purpose with this column is for all of us to encourage municipalities to promote anti-littering campaigns, increase fines, and enforce littering laws. When is the last time you heard of someone being fined for littering?

What about making the producers and sellers of plastic containers responsible for the consequences of their products? They can choose either to clean up their “spill” or use biodegradable containers.

Regardless, we all need to do our part by getting away from plastic bottles or at the very least, just keep them out of our waterways! Enough is enough; it’s time to take back our favorite houseboating lakes and take a stand on littering. 

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