Bottled Guilt

When I say I hate bottled water, I’m not kidding. I hate everything about it. I hate the plastic bottles it comes in, that are engulfing the planet. I hate that it’s one of the worst yet most successful marketing hoaxes and eco travesties ever perpetrated. I hate that it’s got so many people thinking they can’t just drink tapwater; can’t prepare drinking-water supplies for a hurricane simply by filling a few big wine bottles or milk jugs from the faucet.

I’ve often said that in order to accept a drink of bottled water, I would have to be stranded in the desert and about to die of kidney failure. And since a bottle of bottled water would not be likely to appear in such a scenario, it is likely that I’d be able to uphold my virtue all the way to the grave.

But, the other day, I caved. And I wasn’t even out in the middle of the desert! I was helping out at a community-aid event, it was a broiling hot day, and I couldn’t find a faucet to refill my steel water bottle. And so, after about an hour of trying to tell myself there was no reason for me to be all that hot or thirsty, I broke down and took one of the plastic bottles of water that had been provided for volunteers. I opened it. I drank it. Over the course of the day, I consumed three bottles of bottled water. And felt guilty as hell, and utterly disgusted with myself.

Now, when it comes to refusing bottled water even under the most challenging conditions, I have always prided myself on exhibiting the superhuman stoicism of Lawrence of Arabia, in this scene with his Bedouin friend Tafas:

T.E. Lawrence : [Lawrence pours in some water] You do not drink?

Tafas : No.

[Tafas shakes his head like saying no]

T.E. Lawrence : I’ll drink when you do.

Tafas : I am *Bedu*.

[Lawrence pours back the water in the tincup to canteen]

At that Juneteenth festival, though, I forfeited my Bedu credentials. Oh, the shame!!!

Later, back home, I realized the whole drama had been completely avoidable.

One, I am always telling other people not to feel guilty when they end up having to violate their eco standards in order to get their basic needs met. I could take my own advice; that would be an option.

And two, knowing how I feel about bottled water, I could be sure to always keep a gallon jug of water (or two) in my bicycle panniers before setting out for an event on a hot summer day.

Easy-peasy! How did I not think of that before? What happened, I think, is that I had built up a bunch of anger and frustration about various little things, and not stopped to handle that anger and frustration. And, as often happens, the anger made me stupid. Once I cleared my head, solutions became obvious.

By the way, speaking of plastics, welcome to Plastic-Free July! According to Veronica Penney in the New York Times “Climate Forward” newsletter, Plastic-Free July started in Australia about a decade ago; it has become a worldwide thing; and last year, about 250 million people signed the pledge to reduce their use of plastics.

Further Exploration:

Definition of “Manichaean” from (a great site to bookmark if you love learning new words, and/or doublechecking that you correctly remember a definition of a word that is in your passive but not your active vocabulary): “Of or relating to a dualistic view of the world, dividing things into either good or evil, light or dark, black or white, involving no shades of gray.” (Visit the link to read about the definition and get some usage examples.)

The Story of Bottled Water: If you want to know why I find bottled water so odious, watch this 8-minute video by Annie Leonard (acclaimed creator of The Story of Stuff).

A Good Zero-Waste Group — “Zero Waste Zero Judgement”: I joined this Facebook group to fill the void created by the shutdown of the Journey To Zero-Waste group, and now that I’ve been reading the posts for a few days, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to you. Unlike J2ZW, this group ZWZG 1) allows posts related to #BlackLivesMatter and racial bias (as long as they also relate to pursuit of Zero-Waste); and 2) allows, with prior approval, self-promotion posts; and also does a “self-promotion thread” weekly. (Please be sure and read the rules before posting! Getting to promote our sustainable/regenerative cottage enterprises is a privilege we don’t want to lose!) One of the recent posts that caught my eye as being helpful to a wide audience, is a post asking people for suggestions on alternatives to bottled water, from a woman whose husband works construction and doesn’t trust tapwater.

Plastic-Free July website: info, resources, take the pledge, take the “Pesky Plastics” quiz, and more.