Enough Water

Posted: November 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Will there be enough water?  When my ship comes in. –The Dead Weather

I’ve been thinking a lot about water.  Specifically, how our perception of it as a commodity changes.  It’s a basic human need, and so it’s always been valuable, but it seems to me that we’ve started attaching class significance to it that exceeds what we have done before.  (This is completely unscientific and devoid of any research whatsoever, by the way).  We still think of it in many parts of the world in the context of scarcity…I don’t have enough water, I have more than you, I have more than I need.  We think of it in terms of energy and time spent…I spend my days walking to get water for my family.  (You can’t think about water in these terms without also looking at gender.  This is women’s work, and women and girls are more affected by water issues.  In parts of Africa, one in ten girls stops going to school when she starts menstruating, partially because of the lack of clean water and latrines: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007783.html).

In the U.S., we think of water in terms of status and money.  Bottled water is better than tap water, although tap water is safe to drink in much of the U.S.  And then we have gradations of better water, water as a status symbol.  (I have to admit, I do think Fiji water tastes better than any other kind).  And we’re willing and enthusiastic about paying a ridiculous markup for bottled water from municipal sources; we’re spending money on what we can get from the tap because it looks better in a bottle.

The other way the world looks at water is in terms of cleanliness, and this is interesting to me.  For most of our cultural history, clean water meant things like no cholera.  It still means the same thing in much of the world now.  In the U.S., our clean bottled water is factory-sealed, untouched by human hands.  (Like the chocolate fountain, pre-Agustus Gloop).  It’s a reflection of our completely irrational fear of any kind of germs.  According to the Natural Resources Defense Center, we trade $4 billion each year and mountains of wasted plastic bottles to feel like we’re safe from germs.

I drink a lot of water, although I should drink more.  I don’t drink soda or fruit juice unless I’m sick, although I do like green vegetable juice and Trader Joe’s makes a spinach/celery/parsley juice that it absolutely addicting.  One of my favorite people in this world, Lisa (nutritionist, DPT and all-around goddess whom I believe knows how to fix everything that goes wrong with my body) taught me to eat your calories and drink only water, tea, and coffee.  (And wine.  She’s met my stress-bunny ass and knows that red wine is good for me.)  In this food-stamp experiment, not drinking calories is amazingly beneficial, both for my wallet and my body.  I don’t have to worry about factoring in a major source of calories and chunk of my budget that other people do.  I use a Pur water pitcher and pay about $7 for a filter that will last me for two months.

That’s $0.11 per day for safe, clean water.  It really is worth much more.

  1. Tina B says:

    Yes! I decided that if I went back for my masters, I would concentrate on water. I learned a lot about it. Water is such an important commodity and half the world does not have access to clean water. Until we start putting a price on clean water and air, people will not start paying attention to all the crap that they are dumping into it. And then having to pay to have cleaned up later.

    And the women in other countries are responsible for their families water. For finding it, for walking sometimes 6 hours a day to get a couple of gallons for there families. And then they have to pack it miles home to them! It’s a shame that we waste so much water when there are those who can use it. We flush it and wash it down the drain and driveway like there is a limitless supply when really, someone could be drinking that water and appreciating it waaaay more than we spoiled American’s do. There was a canal built to alleviate that problem in one area of Africa I believe. I read an article on it and it was so cool! Nice to see there are people in this world who do care enough to help solve some of our worlds’ issues.

    Also, half the water in bottles you buy at the store is just tap water anyway. Companies like Aquafina have actually admitted that. Our water today goes through so many processes it is really fairly clean. I refuse water bottles unless we are taking them camping. I drink tap water.

    There is a book I read that you should read. It’s called “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It” by Robert Jerome Glennon. It really held my interest and I thought you might like to read some more about this subject.

    Great post by the way! Love the blog!

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