Living Green 365: Bottle Buyology

Having trouble viewing this message? View it as a webpage.

Living Green 365

Bottle buyology

Bottle filling station

1.5 billion beverage bottles are purchased each year in Minnesota. 15,000 will be purchased during the 5 minutes it takes to read this newsletter.

With these kinds of numbers, you can understand why our everyday choices about beverage bottles add up. The small decision to use a reusable bottle filled with tap water, instead of a single-use water bottle that is tossed in the garbage, will reduce energy consumption by 85% and greenhouse gases by 79%.

Could Minnesota eliminate plastic bottles from our trash? I think so. Here is how you can do it, and help others do it too: 

Use less

  • Drink tap water. Bottled water costs as much as $10 per gallon compared to less than a penny per gallon for tap water. In addition, federal water quality standards are usually more rigorous for tap water than for bottled water. Those concerned with taste or quality can also add a filtration system. Read about filters in the EPA's Filtration Facts (pdf).
  • Buy only 1 or 2 reusable water bottles and use them frequently. Reusable water bottles are "in" right now, and come in fun colors and patterns. If you buy too many, though, you'll reduce the benefit of using a reusable bottle.
  • If you  must buy bottled water, choose the thinnest bottle and look for water that is bottled locally. This will reduce packaging volume and pollution from shipping.

Bottle label

Make it trendy

  • Compliment others who use a reusable bottle. Positive comments encourage people to continue their behavior. It can be as simple as saying “thanks for using a reusable bottle.”
  • Ask your school or work place to install a water bottle filling station. Many have an electronic sensor that makes filling fast and sanitary. Seeing the station is also a reminder that reusable bottles are expected or encouraged.
  • If you host an event, provide a tap or pitcher for water. Encourage guests and attendees to bring a bottle or cup.
  • Label your bottle as “reusable." This will highlight why you are using it and encourage others to do the same. You can print our reusable bottle label on sticker paper or create your own designs. 

  • Spread the word by using posters, activities, and links provided by the City of Minneapolis on

Recycle more

  • Recycle every bottle you buy. Only 24% of bottles are recycled by Minnesotans every year. Make a commitment to recycle 100% of your plastic bottles even if that means carrying it home to recycle. Your good example will be noticed. Single-use bottles are in demand as a material to make new things. Plus, recycling saves energy, makes jobs, and feels good.
  • Start or improve the recycling program at your work or school. The Recycle More Minnesota website has a toolkit for schools. RethinkRecycling has resources, too.
  • Thank businesses who provide recycling. Just like people, positive comments encourage businesses to continue their behavior. If you don't see recycling options, ask for it. The more that business owners hear their customers asking for recycling, the sooner they will provide it.


Community events and resources

The Will Steger Foundation, Fresh Energy, and the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy are organizing a series of free public forums about climate change. Hear from Will Steger, Minnesota’s own eyewitness to global warming, and Fresh Energy’s J. Drake Hamilton about effective clean energy solutions, dates in November & December throughout Minnesota.

The Northland Bioneers Conference is a local event featuring the plenary presentations from the National Bioneers Conference via DVD, hands on workshops and facilitated solutions-focused dialogues about sustainability, November 10, 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Macalester College (St. Paul).

Considering renewable energy at your home? Start by attending the free Solar Works! in Edina workshop. You'll get solar basics, rebates, and resources to get your project started, November 15, 7-8:30 p.m., Edina City Hall.

Mark your calendar for the 7th annual Green Gifts Fair, where you can find unique eco-gifts for the holiday season, November 17, Midtown Global Market (Minneapolis).

Thank you for reading Living Green 365. This newsletter is a publication of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Please send questions or comments about living green to the address below.
Britt Gangeness and the Living Green Team