This post is written in support of Blog Action Day 2010, the 4th year where bloggers around the world join together to debate, brainstorm and raise awareness around an international issue. This year’s issue is Clean Water.
I’ve been at AC now for nearly 2 full months. And one of the weirdest things about living in the UK is that its tap water can be drunk. Having come from Hong Kong, I was used to the daily toil of having to boil water, clean out old water bottles and the pour the boiled water into containers to use for the day. Now in the UK, people could just as well have drunk straight from the tap. I am still not exactly used to this. But that’s beside the point. Despite the ease of finding drinkable water here at AC, even in the middle of nowhere, I still see people walking around with plastic water bottles that they’ve brought from our nearby town, Llantwit Major.
Currently 3.6 million people die each year because they don’t have clean water to drink and every day 4,000 children younger than 5 die from preventable, water-borne diseases. At the same time, in the last 10 years, per-capita consumption of bottled water in the U.S. has doubled to an average of 200 bottles per person each year.
In Hong Kong, I know for a fact that the majority of people are still perfectly fine with buying Watsons or Vita water. There’s nothing wrong with that per-say. But as amongst the most financially conscious cities in the world, it would seem to be amongst the most stupid financial decisions we make.
While some people are dying from a lack of clean water, there are those of us who are paying money we don’t need to pay in order to buy bottles. It’s not too hard to keep hold of an old water bottle, or even to re-use a plastic bottle you bought. It costs less to just turn the tap on (and boil the water if you need to) and has a significant environmental impact.
Tara Lohan of AlterNet.org nicely summarizes it in the following way:
Reducing the amount of bottled water we use helps cut back on petroleum, carbon emissions, and of course, waste. It also helps protect ecosystems in rural areas where spring water is mined, often with little regulation on how much water can be pumped. Instead of spending money on bottled water, we should be directing our efforts to making sure all of our water infrastructure is properly maintained and that everyone has clean, affordable water coming from their taps.