Sunday, May 20, 2007

Evil Bottled Water?

“The vanity of it! While half the world dies of thirst or puts up with water you wouldn’t piss in, or already have, we have invested years and years, and vast amounts of money, into an ingenuous system which cleanses water of all the nasties that most other humans and animals have always had to put up with, and delivers it, dirt cheap, to our homes and workplaces in pipes, which we can access with a tap.”
- Times of London food critic Giles Coren.



The cover of the May 14th issue of Canada’s popular magazine Maclean’s has this headline:
“Bottled water is the latest environmental sin. How much tap water are you willing to drink to save the planet?”


Being a frequent bottled water drinker I was immediately interested. I always feel bad for not recycling my water bottles when I’m on the road. It seems that recycling receptacles are harder to come by in the U.S. so I always end up just throwing them in the garbage. Turns out I’m not that different than most other people. The article states that 88% of water bottles are not recycled but just thrown in the trash!!

It’s pretty ridiculous really that we spend as much money as we do on bottled water. Do you remember when it first became available in stores? I remember thinking, "this is nuts. Who’s going to buy water when they can just get it from their tap for next to nothing?" And I don’t think too many people missed the irony of the brand name of the first widely available bottled water Evian, which of course spelled backwards is naïvE. This article says that a litre (33.8 ounces) of tap water in Canada costs taxpayers an average of less than one-tenth of a cent! So that makes for something like a 3000 times mark up. Pretty good business move. Maybe I should start selling Lavender water.

I was doing pretty good at carrying my own bottle around and refilling it for a while but I haven’t found the right bottle yet; one that doesn’t leak, one that I can easily hold while running and one I can easily sip from. If you ask, “Why don’t you just go ahead and refill your water bottle?” I do often do that, but according to this article that’s a big no-no due to risks of leaching and bacterial growth. There’s always something for us to be afraid of, isn’t there?

So anyway, I guess I’ll make more of an effort to go through our stuff and find myself a good water bottle to carry around. It is cheaper after all, and my guilt factor can go way down for all the water bottles I chuck.

To read the full Maclean's article click here.

GL

6 comments:

kathryn 5/22/2007 11:27 PM  

maybe you could get a blue box just for the downhere van or trailer? collect the recyclables and then someone can take them to a depot when you all get back to home base? They have depots there, right, instead of curbside recycling? I'd also feel bad throwing recyclables in the garbage. Bottled water has been proven to cause tooth decay (no fluoride). Yes, there is always something, isn't there?!

Lynn,  5/22/2007 11:31 PM  

Wow, a lot to think about!

I always recycle my bottle and will only buy water cases when they're on sale! Still, as you said, it seems weird to 'pay' for water.

I have mixed feelings after reading your blog and the article. I find re-usable bottles (at least the ones I've used) can make the water have a 'plastic' taste, especially in the summer. But as you and the article said, that's still a lot better then what a lot of the world has to drink.

I guess I have more thinking to do!

kathryn 5/23/2007 2:38 PM  

wow, 88% of the plastic bottles are thrown in the trash? Oh my!

so, Glenn, you take part in lots of Christian shows, do any artists, bands ever talk about 'green' issues on tour? do venues have 'green policies' for dealing with the refuse when there are beverages and food served on their premises? just wondering. I wonder if any Christian artists have written any songs about environmental stewardship as part of a Christian's responsibility while living 'down here'? Melissa Etheridge wrote one for Al Gore's movie. . Madonna just wrote one. .

glennlavender 5/23/2007 3:14 PM  

We would need a pretty huge box to bring them all home and it would just be a headache to try to make that happen. I'm thinking we try to find out where the local recycling is in each town and try to encourage the local promoter to take care of it.

I don't really know of any bands that talk about "green" issues in our world. It seems to be so much of a political hot button that likely no one wants to do it. Also, since it's "Liberal" Al Gore who's got this whole thing rolling the "Conservative" voting Christians (from my experience) don't seem too interested in having anything to do with it.

Sue Titcombe 5/24/2007 11:44 AM  

Very interesting post. We've got a guy from our corps currently working in Zambia through Engineers Without Borders. His job is to provide water in small rural African communities. His blog is http://www.zambiantrevor.blogspot.com/ and I'd highly recommend his most recent post with some more info about water.

Before he left I talked to him and his dad about how bottled water makes something that should be free a commodity. As a result, their family swore off purchasing bottled water in favour of bottling their own. I'm still a slave to convenience and haven't gone that far yet. I know I need to.

As for the naive thing, that really made me laugh. I hadn't realized that before. I know that Evian is the name of the town in France where the water is bottled (you can see the town across Lake Geneva from Nick's Grandmaman's house), but I wonder how much coincidence there is there.

I also listen to an American conservative Christian radio show every afternoon. He is so anti-Gore that he really seems to be anti-environment. He thinks we are meant to use the earth as we see fit (I don't know the exact Scripture reference, but he currently refers to the passage where we're told to subdue the earth). I think that's just poor stewardship. He raises a lot of interesting information about whether or not global warming is a real phenomenon, but even if it isn't, what harm can come from making decisions to have a positive impact on the environment? I can't see any.

Sorry this is so long!

kathryn 5/24/2007 8:29 PM  

i've also encountered Christians whose attitudes toward "Global warming" and "green" or "environmental awareness" are disturbingly apathetic, unconcerned and, like Sue mentioned here, even 'anti'! I can't understand it. For me, i can't separate the gift from the giver because they're so intertwined. God gave this place to us, made us caretakers. . .he used great creativity and ingenuity forming everything. How can people who believe God created this earth not care about it?

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