Heroes

This guy thinks plastic water bottles should have graphic warning labels. He makes a great point.

Our water bottle addiction causes of lot of destruction. Maybe we need more reminding.

This guy thinks plastic water bottles should have graphic warning labels. He makes a great point.

Shocking, graphic warning labels ... on plastic water bottles?!

Yep. That's right. I know, I know, it sounds a little extreme, but think about it — if packs of cigarettes can warn smokers about the dangers of tobacco, why shouldn't we do the same thing with water bottles?

That's where Trey Highton is coming from, anyway.


He's a doctoral student in California. And for a recent art assignment, he developed a project that would sound the alarm on water bottles and how they're basically wreaking havoc on Mother Earth.

Admittedly, Highton is not a huge fan of their awful, horrible, no-good impact. But with the recent drought, his project is starting to seem like a really good idea.

Just look at all these bottles:

Lots, and lots, and lots of plastic bottles in San Francisco. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Knowing how effective those cringeworthy anti-smoking campaigns can be, Highton decided to mock up some similar labels for water bottles.

And I have to say is wow. Gosh darn it, he just might be on to something!

They range from, the "ew, gross" variety of sushi made out of garbage...

Sushi? Delicious. Garbage-made sushi? NOPE. This is an example of the type of label Highton wants on water bottles in California. Image via Trey Highton.

...to the "whoa, gross, that is totally a dead bird" variety of a photo of a dead bird that swallowed a lot of plastic garbage.

Here is another example. If you couldn't tell, it doesn't bode well for birds when they ingest our pollution. The label above supports the eco-friendly Surfrider Foundation, of which Highton is a member. Image via Trey Highton.

These images might be tough to look at, but that's his point.

"Recycling is not a silver bullet," he explained to Upworthy. "We have to intrinsically change consumers' attitudes about plastic."

Highton launched a Change.org petition demanding legislators in his state "add graphic environmental warning labels to single-use plastic water bottles."

And so far, it has gotten lots of attention.

As of June 25, 2015, more than 9,400 people had signed — just about 600 signatures shy of his current goal.

"I've been stoked on the amount of support the petition has received thus far," Highton said. "The page is averaging about a thousand views a day over the last week, so it seems to be picking up momentum."

California's drought has probably helped in getting the word out on his campaign. After all, the state is freaking out right now about how little water it has. And with good reason.

"People can deny climate change and global warming all they want," Highton said.

"But anyone who drives up and down California and passes any of our lakes and reservoirs can clearly see the dire shape we're in."

A dramatic before and after comparison (taken in 2011 and 2014) shows Folsom Lake in northern California. Images by California Department of Water Resources via Reddit.

He's aware of the uphill battle he faces in making the campaign a reality, though.

"For me, 10,000 signatures is still just getting started," he said. "We have a long way to go in terms of outreach and support before stakeholders at the governmental level will take this initiative seriously."

You want those stakeholders to take it seriously, though, don't you? Of course you do. Then click here to support Highton's efforts.

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