Billions of plastic bottles, which take millions of barrels of oil to produce, appear on supermarket shelves every year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. USA Today reports that only about 28 percent of bottles manufactured in the U.S. end up being recycled.
But with the approach of Earth Day, Sierra Canyon High School students are doing their part to limit the number of plastic bottles heading to landfills.
The Upper School Student Government Assn. and Environmental Club launched a joint initiative. In place of the plastic single-use water bottles that have been provided with lunch, each student on the private prep school campus has been given a free, reusable aluminum water bottle that can be filled at the tap or water cooler.
Single-use plastic bottles produce up to 1.5 million tons of waste every year. According to Food and Water Watch, that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And most plastic bottles are simply thrown away.
Environmentalists point to a phenomenon known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," a floating island of discarded plastic debris that is twice the size of Texas and held together by swirling ocean currents, as an example of the proliferation of plastic pollution, according to USA Today.