Change Just One Thing

With the start of a new year, many of us make vague resolutions about what we want to accomplish in the coming year. Usually those resolutions are along the lines of eating healthy, exercising more, and/or staying within our budgets. By March, most of us have fallen off of whichever bandwagon we got up on at the beginning of the year. Most resolutions are too broad and vague, and we never get around to breaking them down into small, do-able steps that actually fit into our everyday lives.

What if we tried a different approach? What might happen if we decide to change just one small thing in our lives?

For example, let’s say you decide you need to drink more water for your health. At first, it might seem that the easiest way to accomplish this is to buy bottled water. Bottled water is available everywhere, including the vending machine at work, and it is easily portable. It is recommended that the average person consume 64 oz. of water daily. That equates to four 16 oz. bottles a day. Sounds doable, right? You grab a bottle on the way out the door in the morning, then get one from the vending machine at lunch time, and you fit the other two into your evening routine. This sounds like a really good idea, and one that you can actually accomplish.

Now let’s take a look at some numbers. If you stay the course and drink four bottles of water each day, at the end of the year that is 1,460 bottles of water. Those 1,460 plastic bottles – what did you do with them? According to, Americans recycle only roughly 23% of plastic. So maybe you recycled 336 of those plastic bottles. What happened to the rest? Most likely they went to a landfill, where they will stay for 400 or more years until they decompose. If they weren’t properly disposed of, they eventually make it our streams, rivers, and oceans, polluting the water and harming the wildlife that lives on and in the water.

If you buy the “off brand” bottled water, you can usually get it for around 20¢ per bottle. More recognized name brands are closer to 50¢ per bottle, when bought in multi-packs. If you grab those same bottles as singles from the vending machine, you’ll pay $1.00 – 1.49 or more. Even at its cheapest, the bottled water will cost you close to $300 per year.

Between destroying the environment and the cost to your pocket, drinking bottled water no longer sounds like a great idea. There is a better option. Buy a reusable water bottle, a bamboo or metal straw, and fill the bottle with tap water. This will cost you anywhere from $10-$50 depending upon what type and brand of bottle you buy and just pennies a day for the actual water. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, buy a filtered pitcher. Most cost around $30 and will filter 40-120 gallons of water, depending upon which filter you purchase. Sticking with your resolution to drink 64 oz. of water day you will drink 183 gallons of water over the course of a year, so you’ll need to purchase 1-5 filters per year (again, depending upon what filter you buy). Even with the cost of a water bottle, non-plastic straw, water pitcher and filters, you will still come in under $300 and you won’t be contributing to the plastic pollution problem.

None of the figures above took into consideration what you’d save if you stopped buying pop in cans, coffee in disposable cups, or flavored drinks in glass bottles. That’s another article! As we start 2019, I challenge you to change just one small thing in your life that not only betters your life, but that of the planet as well. And when you have to grab a beverage of any type while you’re on the go, please recycle the container!

Environmental Conservation Organization

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