Daniel Goleman, author of the acclaimed book on Emotional Intelligence, more recently wrote a book called Ecological Intelligence, which examines the hidden impact of our buying patterns on the environment.
In a follow-up article, Goleman discusses a simple conundrum: which is ecologically better, to use a plastic water bottle or a reusable stainless steel one?
The answer isn’t quite as simple as you might think, as the article goes into all the factors that impact the environmental in producing a stainless steel water bottle:
- The stainless steel used for utensils is derived in part from chromium, which comes from mines in Asia, where workers have an increased risk of cancer from exposure to the raw material.
- Melting the metals requires heating them to thousands of degrees. All these processes release hundreds of pollutants into air, water and soil — including green house gases like methane and lung-clogging particulates.
- And repeatedly washing your stainless steel has environmental concerns as well.
Goleman says, “Putting aside the question of plastics ridden with BPA, the chemical suspected of being a carcinogen and endocrine disrupter, the overall ecological impacts of a stainless bottle, compared to plastic, are more worrisome pretty much across the board.”
His final recommendation? He finds the “tipping point” where stainless becomes preferable to plastic at somewhere around 25 uses. The final objection to stainless steel is overcome, in Goleman’s calculus, at 500 replaced plastic bottles.
Read the full article here: Ecological Intelligence | Daniel Goleman