Water wars have been a feature of human society since the beginning of time. Sadly, with the onset of global warming, the frequency and seriousness of such conflicts are only going to increase. Water scarcity and the disastrous after-effects including failed crops, dying livestock and thirst, do not happy people make.
A more ideological water fight is the debate around the issue of bottled water. For some time now, there has been a worthy crusade to end the taboo over asking for tap water in restaurants. The crusade seems to be making progress as I now find that most restaurants no longer give you a snooty look for rejecting expensive, carbon footprint heavy bottled water.
One publication that has been a part of this crusade is GOOD magazine. In the past I’ve read with interest their “ongoing effort to make you feel slightly bad about drinking bottled water” and some of their other content around more sustainable solutions for those who do want/need to buy water. For example, GOOD was the first to alert me to the Boxed Water is Better product. As the name suggests, this product boxes rather than bottles water, thereby helping the environment with more sustainable packaging (recycled cardboard cartons) and an 80% smaller carbon footprint for distribution than bottled water.
Therefore, I was shocked when I recently came across an article on GOOD magazine “in defense of fancy bottled water”, featuring a so-called “water sommelier” talking about the “taste” and merits of certain expensive water brands like you would talk about fine wines.
I’m actually a huge fan of GOOD but ironically the main reason for this is their socially and environmentally conscious content. I’m confused by this apparent change of heart.
To give them the benefit of the doubt, I guess it could illustrate the cloudy nature of the bottled water debate. Even those trying to “do good” for the environment and society by promoting tap water, tend to take a bit of a combative and controversial approach. Perfect example: the Start A Lie site from an organization called Tappening. The site hopes to raise awareness about the “lies” of the bottled water industry by encouraging people to tell their own lies about the bottled water industry: “if they can lie so can you”. An obvious “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.
I’ll be watching with interest to see how this debate plays out.