Today - Earth Day - let's consider water. Water drying up, dirty water, and water coming in bottles.
Bottled water is weird. It's even unnatural! If you live in a nation where water - good for drinking - comes right out of the faucet then bottled water is a waste of money and materials. One thing that will make all our water worse is all the stuff we're putting into it. And making more bottled water (the irony) is polluting and wasting water by turning it into a commodity. Check out The Story of Stuff Project and this clarifying episode on The Story of Bottled Water.
In my travels through Peru and Bolivia, Egypt or Mexico . . . I've struggled with the bottled-water-issue because, well sometimes it's all there is to drink! By drinking it, I add to the production of plastic in our oceans AND take in whatever plastic-y toxin is leaching out of the bottle and into its contents. Yikes! Yet in these places - where the water coming from the tap isn't safe people need clean water. Not to mention many, many people don't have taps to turn on and drink from. In Bolivia I met some folks working with SODIS - an organization helping educate people about a way to get purified water by using the sun's UV rays to kill bacteria. PET-plastic bottles (or better yet) glass bottles filled with funky water, can be left in the sun for 6 hours allowing the sun's radiation to kill pathogens and make the water safe for drinking. This solution saves lives.
Finally, about water drying up - or being bought up, I recommend the documentary Flow: for the love of water. They offers some hearty sips for thought. The facts their website will link you to are shocking - 1.1 billion people on earth have no access to clean drinking water. No access. None. And this lack of water sanitation claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns (www.water.org).
This Earth Day may those of us who can consider giving up the plastic bottle - or tradeing it for a glass one. And may we also consider a substance we're likely taking for granted - water.