I still say that bottled water reflects poorly on Vancouver!
Okay, so I took a pretty photo of a plastic water bottle. One might even say that it neatly sums up 100,000 years of human development, as in:
“The modern holder of water, the happy plastic bottle, reflects on its prehistoric antecedent—the depression in the ground”.
I’ll take my prize in small, unmarked bills please. But don’t expect me to thank Nestlé S.A., or Coca-Cola (maker of Dasani and Vitamin Water), or Pepsi (maker of Aquafina) or Fiji Water or even Vancouver’s own Happy Water—no matter how much money I ever make off their packaged tap water!
Looking a gift H2Orse in the mouth
As a person who actually earns most of his income by binning for returnable beverage containers—and knowing full well that discarded plastic water bottles are one of the mainstays of my income as a binner—I still wish that bottled water would totally disappear as a thing.
When I moved to Vancouver in 1980. the mere idea of bottle water would’ve sounded absurd and nonsensical, like packaged air with a best-before date. After all, every one of Vancouver’s estimated 2,7 million residents agreed on one thing, if absolutely nothing else—that, without a doubt, the city’s tap water (much of it said to come from glacier-fed streams) was the healthiest and tastiest water in the entire world!
I could hardly disagree, fresh as I was from Saskatchewan, where the well water almost contained enough minerals to stick to a magnet. To my taste, Vancouver’s tap water was scary delicious and 36 years later I still think so.
Knowing some of the reasons why so many Vancouverites now resort to buying and drinking bottled water doesn’t make it any less of a shame; especially as the reasons literally don’t hold water.
There’s the fact that Metro Vancouver has experienced a great deal of immigration in 36 years from places in the world (not to mention places within Canada) where “water” and “safe” are not synonymous, to say the least.
It’s also a fact that ozone holes and global warming and every manner of ecological catastrophe have been exploited in the last three decades to create huge fear-based markets for sunscreen and bug repellent and long-sleeved clothing and filter masks and hats and, yes, little plastic bottles of over-priced tap water.
And this year will mark the 10th anniversary of one of the events that I believe really sealed the deal for Vancouverites—the week in November of 2006 that I will never forget—when Greater Vancouver was placed under a boil water advisory!
Oh, be still my turbid heart! I still can’t believe that such a thing ever happened.
It was truly a surreal experience, especially for us binners—such a bounty of discarded empty water bottles in November, comparable only to the hottest August heatwave! You just can’t imagine.
And when the advisory was lifted…people just tossed tossed out flats and flats of unopened bottled water—what a waste!
The reality, is still that the City of Vancouver and the region of Metro Vancouver enjoy some of the world’s best and safest water right out of the tap. What has changed is the public perception, and for that we can thank the miracle of marketing.
Anyway, as I say, despite the hit that I would personally take in the pocket book as a binner, I actually wish that Metro Vancouver would straight out ban commercial bottled water in all quantities, or at the very least, below 19 litre quantities for office water coolers.
And you would think, in fact, that Metro would want to do this, if it felt that the safety of all its municipal water systems could be guaranteed. It would take a lot of plastic out of the waste stream—plastic that all the municipalities would’ve been glad to be rid of 10 years ago.
But perhaps I’m confusing the now-obsolete goals of the old municipally-run recycling systems, to eliminate all waste streams, with the new privately-run recycling system of Multi-Materials B.C., where all the municipalities in Metro Vancouver are merely contractors for the private sector. And where the new impetus informing all aspects of recycling appears to be the profit motive, with MMBC only apparently interested in eliminating non-profitable waste streams.
And in the new normal of summer water shortages that Metro Vancouver is clearly bracing for, does bottled water take any kind of meaningful strain off the hard-pressed watersheds in July and August? One has to wonder.
In any event, plastic water bottles aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon, except into the garbage—often as not, still a quarter full. Grrr! Click the image to enlarge it.