Saturday, 22 March 2014

Is imported bottled water the most environmentally-unfriendly way imaginable to slake your thirst?

Today is UN World Water Day 2014, which aims to raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy and draw attention to the fact that “768 million people lack access to improved water sources”, many of whom presumably have no safe drinking water.

Meanwhile, in the developed world, we take our safe drinking water for granted so much that we are prepared to spend ludicrous amounts of money to ship in bottled water from other countries. Ignoring the environmental cost of the plastic bottles themselves, I shudder to think what the carbon footprint is to fly water to Australia from Europe.

Sydney, happily, is making some moves with Sydney TapTM, which is looking to replace bottled water with tap water. There are also lots of drinking fountains around, which is good.

San Francisco recently announced that it was going one further and banning the sale of bottled water below 21 ounces from city property. Hopefully, other cities will follow suit.

Personally, I would go further than this and ban bottled water altogether. Instead, shops should be able to sell empty reusable water bottles and refills of filtered water for a small fee. I'm sure it would take a bit of getting used to but people would soon learn to carry a water bottle with them. It hardly seems like a big sacrifice for the sake of our future and would act as a constant gentle reminder about the need to avoid excessive packaging.

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