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Getting Rid of Plastic Water Bottles in our Oceans

Getting Rid of Plastic Water Bottles in our Oceans

Single-use plastics are wreaking havoc on our planet. Did you know that 80% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills in the United States alone? And it takes up to 1,000 years for one plastic water bottle to decompose. 1,000 years! Not only are more than 2 million tons of plastic bottles sitting in our landfills, but they’re also floating in our oceans. After all, only 9% of plastics actually get recycled.  

Drink One, Remove One

In a recent conversation with David Cuthbert on The Darin Olien Show, we dug into just how monstrous the plastic water bottle problem is. David is the CEO of Mananalu, the bottled water company founded by actor and activist Jason Momoa. Mananalu is the only bottled water company that actively removes plastic from ocean-bound waste. I was so excited to hear about their “Drink One, Remove One” initiative. This genius concept translates to removing the equivalent of one plastic water bottle from the environment for each aluminum Mananalu water bottle sold. This initiative is possible thanks to Mananalu’s partnership with rePurpose Global, the world’s leading plastic action platform.

David explained why Jason was compelled to start such an innovative bottled water company. Growing up in Hawaii, surrounded by the sea, he became fascinated with the ocean and marine life. As he got older, and his platform and reach expanded, he realized he had a real chance at fighting against the ocean’s number one enemy– single-use plastics. 

The challenge, of course, was coming up with a way to continue to meet the demand for convenient beverages without using plastic. Reusable plastic bottles aren’t the way to go because you’d still create a demand for plastic, and they’d still likely end up in the ocean. So he settled on aluminum, an infinitely more recyclable product than plastic. Anything you can bottle in plastic– water, juice, coffee, energy drinks– you can bottle in aluminum instead. Because like David says, “If you have to use something not reusable, make sure it’s recyclable.”

Removing Plastic Water Bottle Waste From the Ocean

Ok, so Drink One, Remove One. Sounds simple, but how does it work?  Well, rePurpose Global knows that 80% of the plastic waste problem could be solved by existing solutions. They currently remove over 14 million pounds of it annually in 8 different countries! By focusing on repurposing low-value plastics like multi-layered packaging, which is often “unrecyclable,” they’re able to make a real dent in the plastic problem. And they’ve found ways to reuse and recycle low-value plastics, like using them to build bricks and housing materials. Genius!

Every time you purchase a reusable water bottle from Mananalu, they donate a percentage of that sale to remove plastic waste from the water systems. So far, this has led to the diversion of over 111,000 pounds of low-value plastic waste from the planet! In addition to removing plastic from the environment, the project employs around 150 people in low-income regions globally. 

I love seeing companies doing things like this. It really gives me hope for the future. But, one company alone is not going to solve the plastic problem. “We need to get better at recycling infrastructure,” David said.  “We need to get better at all these things because no one thing is a silver bullet.”

Can Plastic Water Bottles be Recycled?

As long as people keep buying plastic water bottles, companies are going to keep making them. Because unfortunately, unlike Mananalu, the majority of big companies are after a profit, not a solution. So since they’re not going away anytime soon, can plastic water bottles be recycled? If you’ve listened to my Fatal Conveniences episode on the myth of recycling, you know that tossing your plastic water bottles in those big blue bins isn’t helping anything. And although those are reusable plastic bottles, they don’t get reused much at all. They end up sitting in landfills or waterways. Because the cold hard truth is barely any “recyclable” water bottles get recycled.  

The only definitive way to rid the world of plastic water bottles is to stop purchasing them. When we reduce the demand for a wasteful product, only then can we slowly rid the Earth of it. So, stop buying single-use plastics! I know it’s hard when it seems like every single thing at the grocery store is packaged in plastic. But when you know better, you do better. Here are some ways to do that:

      • Stop buying plastic water bottles, use an earth-friendly reusable bottle or cup instead. 
      • Avoid plastic straws.If you order a beverage at a restaurant, ask for no straw or lid.
      • Take cloth bags with you to the grocery store.
      • Buy things in bulk to avoid packaging.
      • Use glass jars instead of tupperware.
      • Only support companies with sustainable business practices. 


The harder we all work at reducing plastic waste for good, the sooner we can save our ocean life, and our planet. 

For more on my conversation with David Cuthbert and the work Mananalu is doing to rid our planet of plastic water bottles,

check out his episode of The Darin Olien Show.

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