My blog today is not directly related to conservation, but instead deals with the issue of bottled water.
On Day 6 of the water challenge, I went to Homegrown Festival on the Wellington waterfront, along with 17,000 other people. Though it was an awesome day full of excellent kiwi music, it was madness as far as crowds were concerned. I had dutifully bought along my aluminium water bottle but of course had to finish the water before I got through the gates, much like airports these days. I was rather dismayed to find that within the fenced off enclosure between the two huge sweaty tents I spent most of my time at, there was no place to fill a water bottle from a tap. One’s only options were to buy alcohol or bottled water at $4 a pop. Hardly a responsible move by the organizers of the 10-hour long festival I would say. At the Big Day Out they supply free water from a tanker – why not at Homegrown? Instead I was forced to buy four bottles throughout the day – water which I transferred directly into my sturdier aluminium bottle, feeling horrible each time I discarded an empty plastic container.
This leads me to wonder, why do we pay for bottled water at all? Some believe that bottled water is somehow safer or purer than water from your tap. The truth is that a lot of bottled water which is labelled “pure”, “pristine” or “natural” comes from a city treated supply that the companies filter one more time. Given the stringent standards that drinking water providers must adhere to, , there is no reason to doubt the cleanliness of your tap water in large centres in New Zealand.
People tell me, “But I recycle the water bottles that I buy!”
This is a good start at least – recycling your water bottles is much better than throwing them in the rubbish of course. But when you consider the amount of natural resources used to make that plastic bottle, pump the water into it, transport it hundreds of kilometres, and then to transport it once more and recycle it after use…. it really amounts to more than just plastic bottles. If you were to take a 750 mL plastic water bottle and fill it one third of the way up with crude oil… that’s about the amount of oil it took to produce and transport that bottle. That’s several litres of oil wasted over a 12-pack of bottled water at the supermarket!
The other part of bottled water that makes me uncomfortable is the fact that water is a common good – it belongs to all the inhabitants of earth. It makes up over 70% of our bodies. No human being, mammal, reptile, bird, fish or any other living being can live without it. How is it that one person can profit over the sale of an essential element of life to another person?
Obtaining a life sustaining element when you are part of a sweaty dancing crowd shouldn’t come at a cost. Instead on Saturday, it cost me $16.