Water, No Ice


Last night a client asked for water, no ice. Seems she disapproved of Pellegrino served at the bar. No problem, I’ll be right back. Oh, you want to come with me? Have it your way. Following me to the kitchen, she watched as I turned the faucet to run cold water. Her jaw went slack, unable to support quivering lips on a face now drained of colour.  Horrified, she mustered “you only have tap water?”. “Excuse me” I replied, handing her a glass of water, no ice. “I can’t drink that” she sputtered, “I need bottled water”. Propriety screamed “easy now, be cool, you’re a professional”. Rather than snap “are you thirsty or not?”,  politest admonishment ahead of “what’s wrong with you”, I smiled, shrugged and replied “there’s bottled juice at the bar”.

Water, no ice lady’s delusion isn’t unique. Convenience, accessibility, marketing and collective apathy sustain bottled water dependency. Why no ice, because it’s made from tap water?

Society resides in a plastic bubble. Insulated from common sense by convenience, consumers take the path of least resistance. Bolstered by marketed delusions, society dwells on plastic bottles and deems the contents crystal clear. Water, no ice lady doesn’t know 93% of all bottled water contains micro-plastics. Nor is she aware of Canadian law as it pertains to drinking water.

Canadian tap water is regulated by Health Canada which sets guidelines for potentially harmful contamination. Municipal water sources are tested constantly to assure quality. Bottled water is another matter – legally defined as “food”, it falls under jurisdiction of the Food and Drugs Act. Translation – “Aside from arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria, the act does not set limits on specific contaminants but says simply that food products cannot contain “poisonous or harmful substances” and must be prepared in sanitary conditions.” Bottom line, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspects water bottling plants – on average once every 3 years. Bottled water producers claim strict adherence to testing practices, legally they’re not obliged to make results public.

With the exception of “spring” or “mineral” water printed on labels, water producers aren’t required to reveal their water source. The Canadian Bottled Water Association claims less than 8% of water bottles in Canada contain municipal water sources. In the United States roughly 45% flows straight from the tap.

“In the U.S., Nestlé’s Poland Spring water, which is not sold in Canada, was the subject of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company was mislabelling the water as “naturally purified” spring water from “pristine and protected sources… deep in the woods of Maine,” when it fact it was groundwater being drawn from man-made wells, some of which, the lawsuit alleged, were at risk of contamination.” – Kazi Stastna, CBC News

Ponder the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bottle-vs-tap-7-things-to-know-about-drinking-water-1.2774182

Water, no ice lady is a cautionary tale. Bottled water is unregulated, unethical, unhealthy and undeniably unscrupulous.

In plastic bottle news – earlier this week Justin Trudeau held a press conference to announce a nation wide ban on single use plastics by 2020. All good until a reporter asked what Trudeau’s family did to reduce plastics. Ponder his cringe worthy response –

 

 

 

Edible Water Bottle


Over 50 billion bottles of water are consumed each year in America. A United Nations study estimates our oceans contain 46,000 pieces of floating plastic per square mile. In America alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil (reported at the 2007 U.S. Conference of Mayors, likely much higher today) are needed to produce plastic for water bottles, that’s enough oil to power 250,000 homes or 100,000 cars for a year.

Enter Ooho, the edible water bottle. Brown algae and calcium chloride form a gel around water, the process of “spherification” (think egg yolk) forms a double membrane, keeping contents safe and hygienic while allowing a label to be placed between the two layers of membrane. Water is frozen before being “dipped” in calcium chloride, then bathed in brown algae to strengthen  by creating a second layer.  At a cost of 2 cents per “bottle” Ooho’s future should be bright, but it has a few problems.

London design student and creator Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez concedes container strength is akin to the skin of fruit. Toss in how to re-seal the vessel and ways to keep membranes sanitary for consumption. Technicalities aside, the edible water bottle demonstrates life without plastic water bottles is conceivable.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/Heres-A-Water-Bottle-You-Can-Actually-Eat-180951185/?no-ist

ooho.jpg

The Ooho edible water bottle can’t be closed, but is biodegrade. (Rodrigo García González)

Feeling crafty? Make an edible water bottle at home –

Pondering Water


I’ve pondered climate change, plastic water bottles in land fills, and oil families the likes of George Bush snapping up land over the world’s largest aquifer. I’m used to the rolling eyes and ho-hum attitudes of people believing it’s not their problem. The moment Al Gore faded from front page news, so too did awareness, urgency, and social responsibility. Sure, there’s a core group of grass roots realists; their efforts seized upon by marketing gurus – turning a tidy profit with buzz words like free or fair trade, sustainable, and ethical. A marketing wet dream, after  slumpish years struggling for new adjectives to describe “new, and improved”.

Lets ponder water. A friend sent me this link tonight, a visual aid that knocked my socks off. Looking at the photo you should see three blue spheres. The largest one represents all the water on earth – everything from oceans, ice caps, moisture in fog banks, even your runny nose. The next size illustrates how much of the first sphere is fresh water; rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater. 99% of this sphere is groundwater, and inaccessible. The last tiny blue speck shows accessible fresh water.

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/2010/gallery/global-water-volume.html

We take water for granted, assuming the supply is infinite. Rising temperatures mean our glaciers melt faster than they are able to restore themselves. Many scientists believe the “tipping point” has been reached – within a few decades the Himalayas could be glacier free. Millions upon millions of people rely on the water glaciers deliver to rivers.

It takes 7 litres of water to manufacture a single plastic water bottle. a puny “water footprint” compared to the 16,000 litres needed for a single KG. of boneless beef. Americans use on average 575 litres a day per household, we use more water washing our cars than many people in the world survive on in a week.

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/we-use-how-much-water-scary-water-footprints-country-by-country.html

We allow ourselves to be lulled by slick ad-men, consuming with wild abandon like there’s no tomorrow. There’s a reason Texas oil men are buying  land atop aquifers, and it sure isn’t for a place to build  retirement cottages. They understand the oil will dry up and water is the next market to corner.

A link to the massive land purchase by the Bush family atop the world’s largest aquifer in Paraguay.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/oct/23/mainsection.tomphillips