The first change I undertook was to refrain from buying anymore bottled-water. After hearing the astounding statistics relating to the bottled-water industry and the subsequent impact on the environment, as well as the detrimental socioeconomic effects, I could no longer justify paying for water in a bottle when our tap water here in the UK is entirely suitable for all purposes, including drinking.
So, have I been able to remain faithful to this pledge? If I had written this blog before visiting Madagascar, I would have been able to say, with my hand on my heart, that I had not bought one bottle of water since committing to refrain from doing so. Unfortunately, to my disappointment, I was forced to break my winning-streak on our recent trip to a ‘very-developing’ country. While I had every intention of using my Bobble water bottle and water purification tablets, I resorted to bottled water for various reasons:
1) water that has been purified with tablets tastes like chlorine
2) I began to doubt the effectiveness of my Bobble when I saw the (brown) colour of the water coming out of the taps
3) either rinsing my toothbrush under tap-water or eating salad that had been washed in normal water caused havoc with my stomach on day two of our trip…and every day after that.
In spite of my determination to stick to my commitment, wisdom prevailed over will and I allowed myself the necessity of buying water for the duration of our stay.
Yet, I have found that this is something so simple and easy to do under normal circumstances. At home I have a water purification jug (and I recycle the cartridges…of course!) so that my kettle doesn’t accumulate limescale. I will use my Bobble when I remember but most of the time I just drink the tap water. According to this website, which details some fascinating data relating to bottled water, I save one-hundred and sixty-seven extra plastic bottles from going into landfills each year by refusing to buy bottled water. Plus, I don’t contribute one penny more to the $50 billion that we already spend globally on bottled water. This is quite remarkable when you consider that the World Bank estimates it would cost just $30 billion a year for “achieving universal coverage” for water and sanitation i.e. we could prevent people from dying from diseases caused by poor sanitation and dirty drinking water.
And it is this idea, that the scales could be balanced by each of us doing this one small thing, that keeps me going. When I take a moment to grasp the reality of this situation, the seemingly impossible becomes less unthinkable; we really could give everyone in the world access to clean water. It just takes each one of us acknowledging that there needs to be a shift in our priorities if we are truly going to change the world for good.