‘Ding’ Darling ‘kicks the bottle’ habit at National Public Lands Day
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is celebrating National Public Lands Day 2012 on Sep. 29 by “kicking the bottle.” The plastic water bottle, that is.
On that day, the Refuge Nature Store will discontinue all sales of bottled water and will give away free, reusable, collapsible water bottles carrying the refuge’s green “Kick the Bottle” logo to the first 200 arrivals for Public Lands Day events starting at 9 a.m.
“We already have clean, filtered water, and we would rather make it easier for people to refill their bottles than to sell disposable bottled water, which is both wasteful and hazardous to wildlife,” said Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik.
The refuge has installed two filtered water refill stations at the “Ding” Darling Education Center complex, improvements funded by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS). At Tarpon Bay Recreation Area, another refill station is helping Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s recreation concession, to also kick the bottle.
“It takes the United States only 27 hours to use enough water bottles to encircle the earth’s equator if laid end-to-end,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. “We believe selling bottled water on the refuge sends a wrong message, so we are ‘kicking the bottle.’ We plan to continue promoting the initiative in the coming year beyond refuge boundaries.” (See more statistics in the sidebar, below.)
“We are using the kick the bottle initiative as the centerpiece of our National Public Lands Day celebration,” said refuge educator Ranger Becky Wolff. “Besides free admission all day to Wildlife Drive, visitors can sit in on a film and other programs about recycling. For the kids, there will be craft-making from recycled materials.”
Starting at 7 a.m., Wildlife Drive will open free-of-charge. All other events of the day are also free. The schedule of events follows:
7 a.m. – 7p.m. Wildlife Drive is OPEN and FREE to all traffic
9 a.m. Free Education Center opens; first 200 visitors receive a FREE "Kick the Bottle" reusable water bottle
10-10:30 a.m. Let's Talk Trash: Marine Debris Timeline, Education Center Classroom
11 a.m.-noon Addicted to Plastic Documentary Film, Education Center Auditorium B
1-3 p.m. Rethink! Recycled Crafts, Education Center Classroom
2-2:30 p.m. Plastic Epidemic Program, Education Center Auditorium B
National Public Lands Day, a fee-free day across the U.S.,  is the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. The Bureau of Land Management designates four National Public Lands dates each year. The next falls on Veteran’s Day weekend, Nov. 10-12.
As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds.
To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Vertesch at 239-292-0566 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.  
Sidebar: Truths about bottled water
Source: J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR
·         It takes a plastic bottle in a marine environment 450 years to decompose. In an open terra environment it can take anywhere from 50 to 250 years. It stays forever in landfills.
·         The plastic does not biodegrade, it just disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces.
·         The amount of crude oil that it takes to make a plastic bottle could fuel a vehicle to run for  a half- mile.
·         The average American uses roughly 200 bottles a year, wasting 100 miles of gasoline.

Source: http://www.brita.com/filter-for-good/say-no-to-bottled-water/
·         In spite of having easy access to clean water, the United States is the world’s largest bottled water consumer. In 2008, the U.S. used enough plastic water bottles to stretch around the Earth more than 190 times.
·         It takes 2,000 times more energy to produce a bottle of water than it does to produce tap water.
·         Many people intend to recycle disposable water bottles; however, 69 percent of bottled water containers end up in the trash and not in a recycling container.
·         In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public.
Source: http://www.droptheprop.info/bottled-water-statistics
·         Thirty billion plastic water bottles are thrown away every year.
·         Plastic can take up to a thousand years to disintegrate and makes up a big deposit of plastic toxic waste in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Making bottles out of plastic takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil, every year. That much oil could fuel 100,000 American cars for a year.
  • Nearly 70 percent of bottled water that is bottled and sold within state lines is unregulated, This state line jurisdiction means the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not supervise its purity or safety, only state law and state inspectors regulate.