Wasteful ways to quench thirst

Yokohama

With the unrelenting hot weather across Japan, we’re reminded daily in TV news reports about the importance of keeping hydrated, which unfortunately too many of us do with little thought.

While waiting five minutes for a train the other day, a fellow passenger bought, drank and threw away a 500-milliliter mugi tea followed by a 500-ml sports drink. Three hundred yen and two more PET bottles in the trash. Another person did the same with a bottle of water, seemingly oblivious to the water fountain right next to him. From vending machine to receptacle in minutes — buy, consume, dispose, repeat.

I drink a lot of water, sports drinks and mugi tea, too; only it all comes from my kitchen. I buy the powder and tea bags and make a sports drink for ¥30 per liter, mugi tea for only ¥1.5 per liter, and carry my drink of choice in a refillable bottle whenever I leave home. It’s actually easier and more convenient than having to buy a drink whenever I’m thirsty.

Japan’s tap water is clean, safe and delicious. That drink companies have convinced so many of us to pay astronomical markups for something that flows essentially for free from our kitchens is surely the greatest marketing accomplishment in history. It is estimated that the Japanese dispose of 20 million PET bottles every day. That may sound like an absurdly high number — one-sixth of Japan’s population — but given that some people consume two or three PET bottles daily, I fear the guess is accurate.

Most of the bottles are not recycled. If lucky, some are down-cycled into other products that eventually end up in landfills or incinerators, but it is estimated that 80 percent of Japan’s PET bottles go directly to incinerators and landfills. Please think before you drink; your wallet and the planet will thank you.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

greg blossom