Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne has long had a political streak, and today he made headlines in the U.K. for comments about bottled water. Browne has a column on the Daily Mail's website titled "I Blame bottled water for the oil spill!" He links the BP oil spill to the marine debris issue, pointing out that according to some estimates, "the amount of oil used to produce plastic every day is the same amount as the oil that is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico every day from the damaged Deepwater Horizon drilling rig." Browne then ties marine debris to bisphenol A safety, charging that plastic water bottles are made from BPA, "a known 'endocrine disruptor', which can mimic the body's hormones and can have side effects." Despite the level of detail in the column, there's no evidence here that Browne knows that BPA is a precursor to polycarbonate, or that most plastic water bottles are made from PET, not polycarbonate. In fact, he writes that last year his touring production company "decided to eliminate plastic water bottles from the list of things we are provided in the venues we perform in. Now we carry two five-gallon coolers, and each of the band and crew carries a stainless-steel water bottle." It is more likely, of course, that those five-gallon coolers are made from polycarbonate than the single-serve bottles they replaced. My favorite snippet from Browne is what he has to say about recycling:
The plastics industry insists that all we have to do is recycle. But why should we bear the cost and responsibility of recycling it? Why should we buy the stuff and then pay to dispose of it? In the case of the oceans, we will never be able to clean them up faster than the rate plastic is going in. The answer is to stop producing it, to stop buying it. A few years ago I was on a remote beach in Spain and spent the day cleaning it up with another guy there, a German. It was mostly plastic. He muttered that the locals didn't appreciate the natural beauty of the place. Both of us assumed it had been thrown away there carelessly, perhaps dumped there. But now I don't think so. I can see now that it had all washed up there. Humans are slobs. There's no way around it. We are slobs. I know surfers who travel the world and ride the planet's most remote waves. They say there are plastic bottles washing up in Antarctica, in Patagonia, and all of the most distant and pristine beaches in the world.Interesting take. Is that a popular opinion among environmentalists, that the public can't be trusted to recycle, so the answer to litter problems is to stop manufacturing products? In my regular searches for news about plastics, I tend to see a lot of comments from celebrities about plastic packaging. I read them all, but I share very few with readers of the blog. But Browne touches on so many issues in his column today, I made an exception.