Why Disposable Water Bottles are Culturally Significant

October 25, 2016

The reality is that the United States consumes roughly 60% of the world’s disposable water bottle distribution, although we account for only 4.5% of the world’s total population.

A disposable plastic water bottle is a material artifact with a short history that occurred within our generation. Disposable plastic water bottles create cultural interest and significance in the population’s every day life for several reasons.

The disposable plastic water bottle has made a vast impact on today’s reality, symbolizing many different characteristics of an individual, a society, an industry, and a nation. Once I gained insight about the disposable plastic water bottle, I found it interesting to explore the familiar elements of our culture in relation to the production and expansion of water bottles.

Why Disposable Water Bottles are Culturally Significant

The achievement of plastic began in Anaheim, California, in 1957, when Monsanto constructed the first all plastic house. Plastic became a very widely used material after this presentation of its “usefulness,” and one of the country’s largest industries. The 1980’s was the decade when nearly all refillable beverage bottles had lost commission to disposable plastic bottles.

This became a major generation change. This was a serious representation of the wastefulness that would begin in America, and in other countries as well. Before the start of disposable bottles, individuals drank out of the faucet, leaving no harm to the environment and self.

It is ironic that the widely known mass distribution company, Monsanto, had a large influence in the culture of disposable plastic water bottles. Today, Monsanto is genetically modifying organisms to mass-produce food to the public, with no consideration to the possible harm it could inflict. A simple item that may have marked progress or development of industrialization has become a negative symbol of the extravagant lifestyle our society bathes in.

Disposable plastic water bottles give an essential or formative quality in our everyday lives, because not everyone is privileged or wealthy enough to consume water through a disposable plastic water bottle. As previously mentioned, the United States is accounting for the majority of the world population’s use of disposable plastic water bottles. One in six people in the world have no dependable or safe water to drink, and we indulge in water from all around the world. Other countries look down upon the way America wastes resources so quickly, and the disposable plastic water bottle is a perfect representation of our wasteful habits.

Our nation is willing to exploit other valuable resources, such as oil, to produce a convenient bottle to drink our water out of. Instead, we could be drinking water out of the sink or a filter like several other people do. The water bottle, in a way, is a staple of one’s living standard. We live in a top industrialized country, which continues to develop and progress with action.

Water bottles are not a necessity, but they fit the needs of the lifestyle we have created in America. “Living in the now” is something that many Americans have lost touch with. We live in a fast paced and impatient society. Individuals who are using water bottles most often will not take the time to fill up a glass of water, drink it, and then be on their way. Not only is it the on-the-go personalities who are using plastic disposable water bottles, but also those that need convenience and accessibility. It is the instant gratification one gets from having their water on hand.

Several individuals even have a preference of which bottle they will be seen holding, even though all consumers are literally paying for plastic and a label. This exemplifies the way that people, today, care much more about their impression or image, than it seems they used to. This becomes another wasteful custom of purchasing disposable plastic water bottles; one must be willing to pay for something that is free.

Another interesting aspect of carrying one’s own water bottle is the individualism it entails. We are living in a generation of individualists, where everyone is self-reliant. We must have our own water bottle for when we become thirsty, and we cannot share our water because it is our necessity, and we cannot share germs either. Human nature was once about helping each other survive, but most people these days seem to only focus on climbing their own ladder to the top.

Most people will say, “but, bottled water is healthier,” which is actually not true. What they are really paying for is the story on the label, about all of the beautiful and pure lakes and springs this water has come from, the “electrolytes” it offers, and all the other “benefits” it will offer the buyer. I’ve never been told the story about my tap water, although I could find it online if I wanted to.

I like to tell myself that if I can bathe, brush my teeth, wash my dishes, and wash my clothes with tap water, it should be safe enough to ingest. Not only is bottled water no better for our bodies, it is absolutely horrible for the environment. Our culture is so blinded with his or her own business that we are hardly ever aware of the effects our indulgences have on the environment.

Landfills are occupying so much space, but because we do not see it, we do not worry about it. 80% of disposable plastic water bottles end up in the ocean or in landfills, and decay so slowly that most plastic ever created probably still exists somewhere. The disposable plastic water bottle industry is one that is heavily fooling the public. 48.7% of bottled water came from tap water supply in the year 2009, and I’m sure not much has changed since then.

In most cases, bottled water does not taste any more pure or fresh than most tap water, although the public continues to purchase it. Most water brands are owned from larger companies as well, including the top brands, Pepsi and Coke. Pepsi and Coke both simply purify and bottle municipal tap water. Coke and Pepsi are simply re-cleaning already clean tap water.

Many of these bottled water companies have a similar hoax, but the public is not worried about quality assurance beyond what they read on the bottle. Disposable plastic water bottles are material artifacts that give an individual an essential quality to drinking water.

The reality of bottled water is far more culturally influential that the consumers are aware of themselves. People have fallen for the instant gratification of having a disposable plastic water bottle. It is essential to those who strive for convenience in their fast paced life styles.

The United States alone is consuming the majority of water bottles produced, further enhancing our image as a wasteful and gluttonous country. Bottled water has become a status symbol. Consuming water through water bottles is a fortunate privilege, which is not for everyone.

Bottled water is seriously harming the environment, although that is not shared on the labeling. Who would have thought that such a prevalent and simple item could have so much cultural significance? We have let the industry build and build by supporting it as consumers.

The water bottle can be interpreted in so many ways. It has created its own material reality, influencing culture, status of symbol, industrialization, wealth, the environment, lifestyle, and health.

The water bottle has become a harsh artifact that creates and informs society’s reality as well. The disposable plastic water bottle has created several complex and underlying identities that consumers overlook, and will probably continue to overlook for many years to come.

So, the question is, are you ready to see disposable plastic water bottles for what they really are? 

Guest post written by Corina Ducker.

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