Thursday, April 05, 2007

They'd sell our mothers to us, if we let them

Last night I attended a meeting promoting the Think Outside the Bottle Campaign (TOTB) of Corporate Accountability International. About 85 people, almost all white, mostly young, gathered at the Women's Building in San Francisco to learn about world water realities.

By far the highlight of the meeting was a wide-ranging presentation by Jared Blumenfeld, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Nobody was going to walk out of there without understanding that U.S. consumption habits mean we consume a share of the world's water resources vastly out of line with our numbers.

The campaign aims to build consumer awareness and political pressure to stop Coke (Dasani, Evian and others), Pepsi (Aquafina and others) and Nestle (Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Calistoga and others) from selling us water whose quality is unregulated -- it is often tap water -- as if it were better than what comes out of our home faucets. The bottled water industry is a consumer con, convincing us we "need" to pay for something we already have. It also uses vast amounts of petroleum in transportation and in making those ubiquitous plastic bottles.

The individual acts we can take to help are easy and simple. If you don't trust what comes from the tap (and in most of the U.S. you could), get an aftermarket water filter like a Brita. Get a glass or aluminum bottle and carry it. You can also sign on with TOTB to help build political pressure on the water profiteers here.
This meeting reminded me of an innovative effort to recycle those darn plastic bottles that we saw on our recent trip to Nicaragua with the water group El Porvenir. Selva Negra is a campy mountain resort (think pseudo-Black Forest cutsey), a working coffee plantation, and an experimental laboratory of organic agriculture. Among their numerous innovations, they gather up the bottles and make insect traps out of them to hang over their mountains of fermenting organic compost.

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