Friday 4 May 2012

Offensive Things - Number One

This is another occasional series in the annals of this is how she fight start. Part of my continuing mission: to impose some sort of coherent structure on my thoughts, to rationalize and focus the conversations in my head, to boldly yadda yadda split infinitive rousing finale.

Let’s start with a biggie, shall we?

1. Bottled Water

Water from Canadian glaciers = Import to Japan = Burn carbon
= More melting Canadian glaciers = Foolproof business plan

I’m not talking about the stuff in crystal studded bottles, or that’s been extracted from thousand of miles below the surface of the ocean. That's all so clearly moronic it acts as a valuable method of redistribution, by removing money from the hands of rich idiots (incidentally, many of the articles on the most expensive bottle in the world, Acqua di Cristallo, report that it holds 1.25ml. That’s one quarter of a teaspoon. If nothing else it proves that basic numeracy and literacy aren’t requirements for an obsession with wealth).

No, I’m talking about everyday bottled water. Just typing that phrase makes me want to dip my fingertips in acid and bulldog piss to cleanse them of the taint. Everyday bottled water. Fuck me.

If you’re reading this you almost certainly live in a First World country. This means you have a reliable source of clean, safe, healthy water on tap in your own home. Have you any idea how amazing that is? Have you any idea how fucking lucky that makes you? If you choose bottled water over tap you’re an arsehole, and you’re literally pissing away money and resources. But mainly you’re an arsehole.

Somewhere around one billion people still live without access to safe drinking water, yet you choose to have it packaged and transported because it’s better for your self-image. More people than live in the EU and the US combined have no reliably safe access to the most fundamental requirement of human existence, and you’re choosing stuff shipped in from another fucking continent because you don’t view yourself as the sort of person who pollutes their body with Coke.

Don’t give me any of that crap about bottled water being healthier or tasting better than tap. It’s not healthier. It’s fucking water; once you get past ‘not harmful’ there’s no sensible way of making it do anything else unless it becomes something else. If you want extra vitamins eat a fucking apple (but if you do believe that bullshit about ‘trace elements’ and the like, then please get in contact, as I’ve an interesting proposition for you involving a deposed Nigerian prince and some magic beans). And if all you cared about was the taste you’d buy a filter and a flask.

If you live in the First World and you buy bottled water all you’re paying for is image and convenience. Let’s do a quick compare and contrast, shall we?

And then let’s all piss off down the poorhouse to light cigars with $100 bills. 

Buying bottled water isn’t bad just because it’s looking out for yourself when others are suffering. Everyone does that. I do that all the time, it’s the only way to get through the day, because you can’t hold yourself responsible for all the misery and injustice in the world.

It’s the vanity, the self-absorption, the mundane ubiquity of the assumption that by buying bottled water you’re somehow making a better choice, when it’s a choice you have absolutely no need to make in the first place, and is a choice denied to millions the world over. It’s the moral equivalent of holding a gang-bang in an IVF clinic, then being proud that you used biodegradable condoms.

It’s not the simple chasm between the haves and the have-nots (though that’s certainly part of it). It’s the sheer unthinking banality with which something so basic has been commodified; the fact that a fundamental necessity for life itself – a fundamental which millions still lack, I must reiterate –  has somehow become a dully prosaic ‘lifestyle choice’.

One of the more clichéd ways sci-fi films indicate that they’re set in the near future is – in addition to having a woman or black man as US president – by postulating a rapaciously evil corporation with dastardly secret plans to privatize air, or sunlight. The point being that surely such a sinister and downright inhuman plot would never succeed in any right-thinking world. It’s deliberately extreme.

Water is just as necessary to human life as the sun. The future’s here, and it’s everything that was promised.


  1. Love to add something, but you've covered it. Maybe just a few more things:
    - plastic bottles are a major source of beach trash
    - pollute landfills, etc.
    - if you buy it in bottles, you're also drinking BPA, or something just as nice
    - but in N.America bottled water or black coffee are your only drink choices not filled with high-fructose corn syrup (liquid diabetes)
    - you can't make a bong from a plastic bottle!

    Here's one thing the bottles are good for:

    1. All good points, but there's always the risk of preaching to the converted, with that last one especially, I feel...

      While we all have fun pointing out the many inadequacies of Japan, it's also worth pointing out the excellent custom of free tap water in restaurants. Would that you could export that as easily as sushi and consumer electronics.

  2. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, as well. Bottled water is a waste of plastic and money. No wonder Seattle has banned the sale of bottled water. It just promotes more garbage. The water inside the bottle is actually from the city water supply. Bottled water is tap water! It's the same stuff! Why don't people get it? I don't buy bottled water. If I want water, I have my own washable bottle that I fill with tap water.

    1. They don't get it because it's an image thing. Looking 'virtuous' is more important than actually being virtuous. On a similar note I've heard of people getting solar panels installed and insisting the go on the north facing slope of the roof (in the N hemisphere), because the road's on that side and they want their neighbours to see.

  3. Oh I love this topic!! Island in the deep Pacific has only 1 ONLY 1 source of water naturally. It's runoff. Rain water runoff. The state has laws protecting certain parts of the mountains and valleys supply that.

    So in about 1993 I was floored to see Menehune pop up

    read the "source" of the water. The Ultra purify it ...?

    The people buying that filtered kitchen sink water always blew my minds. The whole company blows my mind.

    1. Only one natural fresh water source? I didn't know that. That really shows up how idiotic some of this stuff is.

      Yeah, it's 'ultra'. That'll do it. Like it's a razor blade or something...