Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bottled Water Freedom Day

I suppose it would be easy to dismiss this day as one of those 'trendier then thou' movement amongst the liberals that surround us and want to go out of their way to ban everything. However, it's an issue that may be very important to us all.

I would say one of the main problems of bottled water is that it is based upon some deception and subterfuge. The premise of bottled water is that our tap water is horribly dangerous and when we drink it, we are filling our bodies with poison. Things like chlorine and fluoride, the latter is, of course either a commie plot or an act of terrorism.

A few have pointed out that the bottled water industry was totally an invention of marketing and because of this, we are told how much we need to invest in bottled water. I came across a blog that had at its title: "Myths, Lies, & Freedom: 5 Reasons Bottled Water Is Superior To Tap Water".

While tongue in cheek, there is a lot of interesting facts, and we should consider a few of them. Perhaps the chief one is the fact that there is a lot of plastic already in our environment and truly do we need more? The convenience of carrying water is of course important for people who exercise, walk about for some shopping outside, or just enjoying the outside world. Since we need to drink 8 8oz glasses of water every day to stay hydrated, carrying it around is good. After all, can we trust drinking fountains? Actually we can.

The main site Bottled Water Free Day, gives us some examples as to why bottled water exist:
Just a decade ago bottled water was a novelty. Now, bottled water is seen as a necessity as water fountains have disappeared and multi-million dollar marketing campaigns have convinced us that bottled water is the only safe way to consume water.

This comes despite the fact that the bottled water industry is less regulated than municipal water systems, consumes more energy and releases more harmful toxins into the environment than tap water.

When we begin to accept that the only way to get drinking water is to buy it in a packaged form, it is easy to accept that water--whether from a tap or from a bottle--is a commodity to be bought and. A system is emerging where we will have two water systems: one for the world's wealthy and one for everyone else.

In recent years, citizens have started to fight back against the false claims and manipulation of the bottled water industry, who are are being forced under a public microscope as people question:
The safety of bottled water.
The growing corporate control of water resources
. The use of misleading bottled water marketing .

The heavy social and ecological toll that the commodification of water has had around the world.

The good news is that anyone can help stop the corporate control of water by joining the movement to ban bottled water and secure access to public water by creating Bottled Water Free Zones and getting your community to kick the bottle and back the tap!

The movement against bottled water is growing, many municipalities are considering banning sale, or at least having them around.

One of the scariest part of this entire argument has to do with the privatization of water; while water is still in the control of municipalities and it is doubtful any city or county would consider selling water control to, say, Coke or Pepsi, but its the reality in the third world. Water distribution is in the hands of multinationals and it is having negative effects on the communities of those nations.
Commodifying and privatizing water contributes to a divide between those who can and cannot pay for water. Examples of water privatization in the Global South provide evidence in support of this concern.

The bottled water industry affirms water as a commodity; privately owned, bought and sold for a profit. Cultivating consumers' willingness to pay more for a litre of bottled water than for a litre of gas helps set the stage for the public acceptance of the privatization of water services.

We are living through one of the most alarming and critical issues of our times: the global water crisis. Evidence abounds of the beginnings of an environmental catastrophe. Aquifers, rivers and lakes are drying up an alarming rate. This is due to overexploitation, and the pollution and contamination of fresh water systems and watersheds. Bottled water is a big part of the problem.

Bottled water companies have targeted their marketing towards convincing the public that the only safe water to drink, is that which comes in a bottle. This has contributed to diminished confidence in public water systems, which threatens to make badly needed investments in public water infrastructure less of a priority for government.

Serious questions and concerns are raised where water is privatized. Should the ability to pay define who can access clean water? What are the impacts of this kind of price value? Should profit guide the use of finite water resources that are essential to life itself? Water service cut-offs and pre-paid water metres are examples of how privatizing water can cause barriers to accessing it. When this happens, health can deteriorate, household tasks become more burdensome and people go thirsty. Inequalities between people of different class, race and gender confound these effects.

Water is rightfully considered part of the ‘commons’ and managed for the benefit of all people. This is based on the understanding that there are some areas that should not be left to the whims of the market, but rather should be managed as a social good.and that water resource management is environmentally sustainable.

In addition, once water supplies become open to the market, free trade agreements open them up even further, making it far more difficult for countries to later restrict their trade.

I guess it comes down to whether this is a huge issue or not to you. At work I have access to drinking fountains, I also fill up a bike bottle from home and bring it with me. Is this just as bad? I'm not buying anymore plastic, it is re-usable and I'm not paying the big dollars for a bottle of water.

So tomorrow it will be the same for me, I'm bringing my own water.

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