Over the past few days, readers of this blog have shown considerable interest in Lucy’s life on earth. I will therefore go ahead in sharing her story with you. For those of you who are joining the blog today, Lucy is a single use plastic water bottle who was born, raised and ultimately buried in a small town off the coast of China. Although her days on earth as a useful object are numbered, Lucy will be with us for the next 450 years. Lucy will only serve one purpose and therefore her working life is short and uneventful. If you were thinking this was going to be a comedy, think again. Lucy’s life portrays how our society has taken Lucy and all her brothers and sisters for granted.
Our beloved Lucy came to be the Lucy that we cherish after PET (Polyethylene terephthalate- plastic pellets) are heated up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, compressed, molded, stretched, cooled down and finally trimmed. Lucy, having spent the first few minutes of her life in high heat is extremely thirsty and ends up consuming six to seven times the amount of water used to fill her up. Baby Lucy is now ready to get her first dress and is sent to the tailor for her new outfit. Once dressed, Lucy and all her brothers and sisters will travel to distributors, on vehicles and finally reach stores across the planet.
Lucy is now ready to serve her purpose as a working adult; her career however will only last an average of 12 minutes as she arrives at stores and is picked up by a customer who will then use and discard her. Depending on how socially conscientious her customer is, Lucy will either end up being re-used, recycled (or what some people like to call down cycled) or simply discarded. It is estimated that 70% of Lucy’s brothers and sisters end up in landfills.
Unfortunately, for Lucy, the job market for single use plastic water bottles is extremely competitive and younger versions of Lucy are being churned out daily to meet the global demand. Lucy does not live to see another working day and ends up on a landfill in Guangdong Province. Lucy will spend the next 450 years waiting for someone to pass by and eventually put her back to good use or to breakdown into micro plastics that will end up in our streams and rivers, leading back to our seas and oceans.
Lucy’s life serves as a dire example of how we have become so accustomed to the use of a plastic water bottle that we no longer consider the repercussions of picking up a bottle at the convenience store, drinking its contents and discarding it in less than 12 minutes. A simple solution to this is to bring a refillable container with you whenever possible. There may be times when you are thirsty and have left the refillable container at home, try to opt for a glass bottle or as last resort aluminum as these materials are more easily recyclable. Say goodbye to plastic and save Lucy from an uneventful life of suffering on a landfill! Do not do it for the planet, do it for Lucy!