We subscribe to the principle of “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures.” We believe bottle messages are temporary forms of communication that offer great rewards for sender and receiver, and have little impact on the environment.

Considerations:

  • We use glass in our kits, and recommend you do too. While glass can break and pose a hazard to bathers, it’s much better than plastic for both the bottle and the message. If a bottle should open, it provides a home for wildlife until it eventually breaks down into sand. Plastic degrades under sunlight, but not completely. Small particles enter the food stream, and we’d like to avoid that.
  • The paper we use is waterproof and tear resistant, but should a bottle open, the message will biodegrade. Some of our older messages used a synthetic paper, that while long lasting was not as environmentally friendly. The new paper is a compromise that we think makes sense.
  • Pencil has no known environmental impact.
  • The ring around the paper is a steel keychain, and it will rust away to iron oxide particles in time.
  • The cap is lined with paper, and made of polypropylene infused with carbon. The carbon helps the cap fend off UV. Eventually, it will crumble into a powder. There is a risk to wildlife if the cap separates from the bottle. It will float, and could be ingested. We’ve evaluated cork, steel and aluminum caps and found that they all have greater problems than polypropylene. If you have a suggestion on how we can improve the caps, please let us know.
  • The beads appear to be a metallic coated dense plastic. We’re not really sure what they’re made of as they came from an unusual source, but we don’t think they’ll have a large environmental impact. They sink in water, and if they’re consumed, their shape provides a good chance for a benign passing.
  • The burlap bag will be broken down quickly in any environment. It is made of plant fibers.
  • The instruction papers and box are made from recycled materials and are recyclable themselves.

While offsets are controversial, we’ll make sure that more material is removed from the environment than this project will ever generate.