Thursday, August 5, 2010

Economic, Environmental and Social Blindness

     "...Sometimes we're misled by intensive advertising into believing that this or that brand of commercial water will make us healthier, skinnier or more popular.
     So we've turned to the bottle, convinced that paying a thousand times more for individually packaged plastic throwaway containers of water than for readily available tap water is an act of rationality rather than economic, environmental and social blindness... We should not lose sight of the poorest countries of the world, who have neither safe tap water nor money to buy bottles of water drink whatever is available, get sick, and often die. This dichotomy leads to a strange reality: Suburban shoppers in America lug cases of plastic water bottles from the grocery store back to homes supplied with unlimited piped potable water in a sad and unintentional parody of the labor of girls and women in Africa, who spend backbreaking hours carrying containers of filthy water from distant contaminated sources to homes with no water at all..."
          - Peter H.Gleick; Author of Bottled & Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water

Now more than halfway through Bottled and Sold, I have found myself preachier than ever on a subject I've typically been somewhat passive on in public. Opting for a glass of ice water or refilling my reusable bottle, like saying "no thanks" to red meat, no longer feels like enough so JustSaying is dedicating the month of August to disseminating the information in this book to our readers.

We'll talk about the difference between "Artesian," "Spring," "Purified" and "Mineral;" the state of our municipal water system; percieved versus actual regulations; recycling efforts or lack thereof; and the marketing efforts that have misled so many and generated tens of billions of dollars in sales.

For today, I will just ask you what Gleick asks often throughout his pages: Think about where you are right now, will be later this afternoon, when your out and about and so on. How far away is the nearest faucet with safe water? Probably not far. Yet for every second of every day a thousand people in the United States purchase and open a bottle of water. Not even close to half of those bottles get recycled. Just saying.

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