22 March 2013

Today is World Water Day. Are you part of the problem?

Today, March 22, is World Water Day. This date is observed each year to promote public awareness about issues related to clean water resources. And I am going to reiterate some concerns that I shared on this day last year, because unfortunately they are still relevant.

Access to clean water has become a big problem in some highly populated areas of the world. A big part of the blame goes to bottled water companies, who have taken a natural resource that had always been free and turned it into a corporate commodity that westerners - particularly Americans - willingly pay for. As they do so, clean, drinkable water becomes a scarce resource for poor people in developing countries where much of our bottled water supply originates.

Think back 20, 30, or 40 years. When you were thirsty, you turned on the kitchen faucet and poured yourself a glass of water. You thought nothing of it.

These days, I don't know many people who would drink the water from their kitchen faucet without at least filtering it first. I myself use a Brita water filter pitcher at home.

But that's not convenient enough, or glamorous enough, for some people. So they buy their drinking water in bottles. By the case. I see it flying off the shelves every time I go to the supermarket.

These same people who complain so loudly whenever gasoline prices go up past $3 per gallon think nothing of paying $10 per gallon for their drinking water. And they won't listen to the fact that bottled water is no cleaner and no safer than tap water, and often comes from the very same sources. To them, carrying around a bottle of commercially sold water is a status symbol, just like their big, bloated, gas-guzzling SUVs. If it's expensive, then it must be better.

And, by supporting the commercialization of water - by willfully paying corporations for something that they could otherwise get for free - they are compounding the problem. If drinkable water is something you have to pay for, then the poor will not be able to afford it. And, without clean water, it is impossible to survive.

If you buy and drink bottled water, you are part of the problem.

Please invest in a nice refillable water bottle and fill it from your tap - filtered or otherwise. It's a much more responsible example to set.

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