Three plastic bottles, empty and discarded. Where do their journeys take them and how do
they impact the fate of our planet?
First things first: where do they come from?
The plastic found in those countless empty water bottles
in your car was formed by the chemical bond between
oil and gas molecules called monomers (actually called
Polyethylene Terephtalate). These bond together into
longer shapes called polymers. They were then melted
and reformed into molds and voila – water bottles!
You then proceeded to buy that bottle (or more
realistically, a 12-pack) from a store, opened it, drank its
contents and threw it away.
What happens next?
Like hundreds, thousands, even millions of others, bottle 1
ends up in a landfill, just like Magħtab. Said landfill expands on
a daily basis, taking up more and more valuable space with its
potent heaps. What’s more, on those particularly windy days,
all kinds of plastic can be carried by the wind into the sea and
even onto the streets nearby!
As time wears on and bottle 1 is compressed amongst all the
other garbage, rain falls and flows through it all, absorbing
water-soluble compounds, some of which are incredibly toxic
and dangerous.A harmful stew called leachate is created,
which moves into the soil and sea, poisoning ecosystems and
killing wildlife, including that adorable baby turtle you saw on
the news that time.
Bottle 2’s journey into the unknown differs from the first but
isn’t a happy tale either. It floats on a trickle, which eventually
leads to the sea because as you may have noticed, we are
completely surrounded by water.
After months of bobbing around, bottle 2 is slowly drawn into
one of the worlds’ five massive garbage vortexes, known as
gyres. Trash accumulates in these gyres, as millions of pieces
of the oceans’ debris are trapped, turning the surrounding
water into a cloudy plastic soup.
Animals get caught and entangled in the mass, unable to break
free and often mistake the brightly coloured plastic pieces for
food. Consuming plastic tricks the animal into thinking they
are full, when in fact they are only full of bottle caps and plastic
bags, which results in them starving to death and passing
plastic toxins up the food chain.
Under the impression that this doesn’t affect you or your
Think about it this way: A shrimp eats a brightly coloured bottle
cap, thinking it’s a piece of food. The shrimp is then eaten by a
herring fish. The herring is eaten by salmon and the salmon is
eaten by US.
Due to the fact that most plastics do not biodegrade,
they continuously break down into smaller pieces called
microplastics and are thus destined to rotate in our oceans
Bottle 3’s story differs from the rest. You finish up that Coke
Zero, rinse the bottle and throw it into a recycling bag. Trucks
bring bottle 3 and all his recycled friends to a plant, where they
are squeezed flat into a block. The blocks are shredded into
small pieces, washed and melted. They are transformed into
raw materials that can be used again (and again and again).
Did you know it can take a plastic bottle over 1000 years to
decompose? Did you know that every single piece of plastic
ever created still exists on this planet?
When taking these things into consideration, wouldn’t you
consider recycling your goods properly, or better still, using
less in the first place?
#Zibel is an eNGO dedicated to reducing waste and making the world we live in greener. We believe that even the smallest changes to everyday life and habits can leave a large impact on the world around us. Help us further our cause and make our home greener, by making these small but significant changes.
© 2018 – VIDA Magazine