Global warming is arguably one of the biggest topics that come to mind when talking about sustainability. Between 1906 and 2005, the global average surface temperature rose 1.1 to 1.6 Fahrenheit. In addition, this increase in temperature has doubled in the past 50 years. The climate change is going to have a huge impact on the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades. This change however is brought by our own human activities that involve heavy emissions of carbon dioxide. In fact, since the Industrial Revolution began, the level of carob dioxide has increased almost 40 percent as of 2010.
In today’s lecture, we learned that about 27% of household water usage goes towards toilets. If we can somehow find a way to reduce that percentage by as little as 5% every year, I believe that will significantly increase our water supply in the future.
The theme for this blogging period got me thinking about water usage at PSU, and more specifically the water bottle usage. I see a lot of people with reusable water bottles (metal, plastic, etc.), but at the same time there are a fair amount of people still using the disposable water bottles that you can buy in bulk at Walmart. Using this site, I found out that every year Penn Staters recycle over 200 tons of plastic bottles (or 7.6 million). In the U.S. though, only 24% of disposable plastic water bottles are recycled, with 600 tons going to landfills where they will remain for hundreds of years. And worldwide, one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, with 31 countries facing water shortages. Penn State has implemented Water Bottle Refilling Stations to help with the distribution of water around campus. Anyone can bring a water bottle to a station (found in many buildings on campus) and refill it with clean water for free. The first of these was installed in 2009 and today around 20 can be found in University Park, with several at the Commonwealth Campuses as well. These refilling stations are mainly located in areas of high traffic (the Hub, big lecture halls, etc.) I think that if this trend continues, we can decrease the amount of waste in landfills from plastic water bottles. This is because we are teaching kids to use these reusable water bottles instead of the disposable kind. I feel that if the students at Penn State that come up with ideas like the refilling stations were to direct that energy further (like Third World Countries), we could really make a difference in the water shortages around the world.