Recently, during a discussion concerning an ordinance against the use of polystyrene by Glendale City Council, the talk turned to possible restrictions to single use plastic water bottles. Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian stated that he did not feel that the term “single use” was accurate because he, and according to him many others, reuse those bottles. I understand this and have seen people refill those bottles, which are sold as single use; however, when I reused the bottles, specifically to have in the car for my dogs, the bottle always seemed to change. The plastic seemed to be thinner the more it was used and would often leak.

I began to investigate and found there is a lot more to plastics than just reduce, reuse and recycle.

According to Forbes, a 2021 study published in the journal Nature Sustainability said that plastic bottles account for 12% of all plastic waste in the world’s ocean. Fewer than half of the plastic bottles purchased are collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected are turned into new bottles. Plastic bottles end up in a landfill or in the ocean.

According to another article in Nature Sustainability, “On the Plastics Crisis” published on Oct. 19, 2023, plastic production now amounts to 400 million tons per year and about 7 billion tons of plastic waste has been generated globally.

“In addition to waste accumulation, the production of plastics in the first place is problematic. Currently, it relies heavily on non-renewable fossil fuels and has a huge carbon footprint responsible for 4.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions,” reported the article.

So how the heck did we get here? Well, it’s kind of an addiction now. We, that is society, is so used to plastics that many forget there was a time when we didn’t use that much plastic.

I remember my grandmother wrapping my school lunch sandwich in brown paper or a paper towel. We got our milk in glass bottles, left by the most amazing milkman in the world who would add a bottle of chocolate milk to our order, even without my parents ordering it. We didn’t have plastic glasses, even as kids; we just learned not to drop anything for fear of breaking it. Even on picnics in the basket there would be glassware and actual silverware.

Now I am not that old but growing up in a small town in Iowa and having my grandmother controlling just about everything that had to do with food, we focused on reusing and not wasting. When I tell this to my husband, who grew up in Los Angeles (actually Redondo Beach), he remembered a little more plastic in the form of plastic wrap but still – not the same amounts as we use today.

As I stated in last week’s article, synthetic plastic was pioneered by Leo Baekeland, a Belgian chemist, in 1907. He beat his Scottish rival, James Swinburne, to the patent office by one day, according to Science Museum.

There are several types of plastics that are ranked in resin codes from #1 to #7. Soda and water bottles are usually made of #1, or PET (polyethylene terephthalate). Code #2 is PEHD or HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which makes up items like milk jugs, shampoo and conditioner bottles. Window frames and bottles for chemicals are #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride); #4 PELD or LDPE (low-density polyethylene) can be found in items like plastic bags and soap dispenser bottles; #5 PP (polypropylene) is found in items like bumpers, car interior trim and yogurt tubes; #6 PS (polystyrene) plastics are found in toys, trunks and Styrofoam; and #7 O (other), or all other plastics, are bio-based plastics.

On many products you can actually find out what type of plastic you are holding by looking on the bottom of the item and seeing the ranking code.

But back to reusing the bottles that are made for single use: that is something most experts do not recommend. Studies are ongoing but are currently inconclusive on how much “chemical leaching” happens when the bottles are reused. This is when chemicals may leach into water especially at high temperatures, which may degrade the bottle. This isn’t a concern with the first use but over time, some studies have shown, plastics may mix with liquid and we then drink the liquid. So the advice is to store these water bottles in room temperature and out of the sun to minimize any chance of leaching.

The real issue with reusing these water bottles that are designed for single use, #1 PET, is bacteria growth. This, according to studies, is of much more concern. Bacteria growth can happen quickly with just ordinary use, but if the contents of that water bottle are unfinished and left at room temperature the bacteria can grow even faster.

This bacteria can grow in bottles designed for single use as well as those that are designed to be reused. So the key here is to wash the bottles frequently and don’t keep refilling them over and over. This advice is applicable for all bottles; however, when those bottles that are designed for single use, which are normally PET #1 and not designed for reuse, the plastics will more likely degrade and have cracks where bacteria can grow very quickly.

According to, “It is not recommended to reuse plastic water bottles. Reuse increases the rate of inner surface abrasion, releasing additional microplastic particles from inner surfaces of the bottle.”

But the bottom line is these single use water bottles are really designed for single use and, with all respect to Councilmember Narjarian, if there were so many people reusing those bottles we would not find so many discarded when we clean the beaches in Southern California.

Our weather will be more of the same with a few Santa Anas thrown in. Today the winds should have 50 mph gusts in the mountains with the foothills seeing gusts from 25 to 35 mph. Though the winds are cooler Santa Ana winds they will be dry; that is why more fire weather watch notices are expected.

The rest of the week will see highs in the upper to mid-70s with lows in the mid to low 50s. And next Tuesday, according to NOAA, there is a slight (30%) chance of rain, according to Joe Sirard, meteorologist at NOAA.