Aussie town leads war on bottles
It costs a thousand times more than a pint of water from a tap, and yet we’re obsessed with it. But an Australian town this week voted to ban bottled water from the shelves of local stores, and its hoped that this will begin a wider movement to end the sale of bottled water across those parts of the world where it has become most popular.
I have wondered before about the desire of so many to be seen drinking bottled water. Does it really taste better, or perhaps is it just that the one homogenised taste across all corners of the globe makes people feel more at home? Or is it down to marketing, to people just wanting consume another brand? I believe there might be some evidence to confirm this hypothesis.
Either way, its a brilliant business proposition; the bottles are cheap and the extraction is hardly expensive, and yet you can get away with charging so much. And with a nice label and a few TV and bus shelter ads, you can start raking it in. And when people are being told to consume something more healthy than Coke or Pepsi, surely water is the ideal direction to go in? Coca Cola and Nestle between them own most bottled water brands, so Coca Cola stands to gain in profitability if people move away from its sugar-drink brands.
But bottled drinks are one area where we really could do more for the environment by doing less. All the needless transport, all the needless energy being used. As a friend pointed out, this would have a much better effect on a shops sales-based carbon-contribution than a ban on plastic carries bags.
After all, if we truly valued safe running water, we’d demand it as a right, not pay to have it branded. Given the lengths the people of Cochabamba went to to gain control of their water sources, its a pity we feel its OK to hand them over to the likes of Coke and Nestle. Moreover, its very concerning to note that the biggest reason we couldn’t do this in Britain is that our public water fountains are, well, to be honest they’re non-existent. Which is appalling, especially as we get hotter summers and need to do more for people’s welfare.
I’d quite like to see Churches challenge people to stop drinking bottled water and give the money to charities working on water projects overseas. As it happens, my sister is working on one of these in Uganda right now, and I’m sure she’ll have a lot to say about our water usage when she returns. I just hope we in Britain can find the campaigning energy to begin getting this passed, and indeed, I’d love to see Transition Towns say something on this. Change has to start somewhere, and a small town in Australia is as good a place as any, so hopefully this is one area where it has started and will spread.