There was a great documentary last year called "No Impact Man," about a New York family of three that attempted to live an entire year with the smallest-possible footprint on the environment. The parents and their 2-year-old daughter subsisted in their apartment without electricity, heat, a car and other staples of modern life — including toilet paper, which may explain why their experiment hasn't caught on nationwide.
I'm far from a No Impact Man myself. I'm typing this column on a computer that probably uses more energy every day than entire stretches of Rwanda. I drive to work, spin DVDs at home and have no compost pile in my kitchen. Still, I've made improvements. A few months ago, I vowed to reduce my plastic bag usage and now lug around a reusable IKEA bag when I go shopping.
Speaking of plastic, I've been a chronic offender when it comes to drinking water. Just a few yards from my cubicle is a water cooler teeming with cups, and I go through dozens in a typical month. And with Trader Joe's offering bottled water for slightly more than a quarter, it's all too easy to take advantage.
So when Takeya USA, a Huntington Beach-based company, developed a pair of reusable water bottles for release this summer, they probably had their sights on people like me. Takeya offers acrylic glass containers that hold at least 16 ounces of water, and they'll be available at the Container Store and other select retailers in August.
Will glass water bottles ever surpass plastic ones in popularity? That's a tough call. Part of the appeal of plastic bottles, sadly, is the very thing that makes them such a blot on the environment: their disposability. No need to wash them, no filtering or boiling — just pop the cap and quench your thirst.
All well and good. But according to the environmental group 5 Gyres, the plastic floating in the North Pacific Ocean spans an area roughly twice the size of the United States, so something's clearly got to give. Last Friday, I stopped by Takeya's office on Gothard Street and borrowed a glass bottle for the weekend.
How does it compare to a plastic bottle? In terms of convenience, it might not lure the average buyer. For one thing, it's nearly a foot tall and noticeably heavier than a disposable container, which makes it harder to cram into a lunch box. Also, it requires an outside source of water, whether it's the office cooler or the tap at home.
Using it for just a few days, though, probably eliminates the need for half a dozen plastic bottles. And for anyone who's ever picked plastic off the beach, that could be incentive enough. I had to return the bottle to Takeya after the weekend, but I may buy my own when it officially goes on the market. And if I do, I'll have my IKEA bag handy.
City Editor MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.