As the school year winds to a close, Hilliard parks soon will be filled to capacity with children and adults playing soccer, baseball and all sorts of other activities.
Temperatures already are climbing, and in the struggle to remain hydrated during activity, thousands of disposable plastic water bottles will be used and discarded.
A range of estimates are out there, but Americans consume an average of 30 to 50 billion disposable water bottles per year. Even at the low end, that is a lot of water bottles!
Unfortunately, less than 25 percent of those plastic water bottles will be recycled. Most will end up in the landfill, where they are one of the fastest growing forms of collected waste. Others will end up as litter in our environment. Depending on the type of plastic, these bottles can take anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years to break down. In addition, this plastic litter can cause great harm to wildlife and fish if it enters our waterways.
In 2015, the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission began looking at ways to reduce the usage of disposable plastic water bottles. In partnership with the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, the ESC has worked with Hilliard City Council to fund upgrades of several drinking fountains. The new drinking-fountain units include water-bottle recharge spouts to make it easier to refill reusable bottles.
You might already have seen some of the new recharge/drinking-fountain units that have been installed. These fixtures are in use at Weaver Park, in the senior center, in the recreation center, near the restrooms at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park and, most recently, at Hilliard's Station Park.
To encourage people to stop relying on disposable bottles, ESC members will give away approximately 1,000 reusable water bottles and hand out information about the negative consequences of disposable plastic bottles at an event later this summer in Hilliard's Station Park.
Additional locations for drinking-fountain upgrades are under consideration, and more fixtures might be installed later this year.
We hope this initiative results in fewer disposable water bottles being sent to the landfill and less plastic litter in the parks. So this summer, when you go out to enjoy activities at our great city parks and trails, be sure to bring that reusable water bottle to help make Hilliard a more sustainable community.
And if you do use disposable water bottles, please remember to place them in the recycling container.
Pete Marsh is chairman of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.