August 13, 2011

Pride and Poland Spring!

Well, whats the connection? If you are seen with a bottle of Poland Spring, (the biggest brand in the US, I guess. Yes, am guessing, and I admit I haven't dug into those murky numbers) you have arrived in life. Poland Spring cans, bottles-minis and micros and dispensers- here, there, everywhere.

A guest comes home and asks for water- there the refrigerator door opens and out comes a 'green', 'eco-friendly' Poland Spring bottle. You go to a business meeting, there comes Poland Spring. The meeting gets over with unfinished and abandoned bottles on the tables. Back in India, whenever I carried my unfinished bottle of water with me after meetings, I got those weird stares. Or rather, stares from people who thought I was weird.

Looking at the way we consume mineral water, I wonder how we ever lived safe and sound, once upon a time when there was no mineral water. And what a misnomer it has come to be- Mineral Water! As if the ordinary, water sans glamour we drink is devoid of any.

Dressed up water is here to stay. Bottled water sales forecasts indicate steady growth for many more years to come. Water being a basic necessity, and the belief so ingrained by now that except bottled water all other water is not safe for consumption, it has to be.

Bottled water is born to the mother of Consumerism. Buy whatever you need to buy, you have the paychecks coming in. Throw things after using it once, because you don't need to keep it. And you simply don't have the time to wash and save. What are you saving after all?

How can we miss this vicious circle? We throw billions of used plastic bottles back to the Earth along with other toxic and non-degradable waste. Then, these so called sustainable and socially conscious, profit making concerns pump water from the deep water tables (which get deeper by the day thanks to the depleting water tables), subject them to numerous chemical treatments and sell it back to us. We buy it in hoardes and gulp it down thinking we have access to the best standards of living on the planet! How sad! Ignorance is really bliss.

Thinking about bottled water, I go back to one of the images from my childhood. A much sought after Pediatrician from Mumbai, my aunt taught me the basic lessons of bird-watching. During her Kerala sojourns, I always spotted a green glass bottle with her; filled with water from the compound well. Before she stepped outside home, the bottle found its way into her bag! More than the consumerist angle which she detests by all means, it must have been her fear of 'foreign particles' from plastic bottles that made her patronize glass bottles. Thanks to my impressionable age then, to this day, I never step outside without clutching a bottle of water.

Why talk so much about bottled water? When I go friend-visiting, I get shocked observing the rate at which we embrace the disposable culture. When friends come visiting, they seem alarmed (and not awed as I so wish often! ) by the fact that I still make fresh juice at home and serve it in glasses! I get a feeling that I belong to an entirely different generation. Even my seven year old doesn't spare me at times. There have been occasions when he complained about the missing chemicals in the home made food.' Amma, please could you put some chemicals into this?'

As I write this post, I am imagining the layers beneath the Earth under my feet. Stifling with all those disposables and bottles that we so thoughtlessly used and threw. And the depleting water tables. The toxic levels of water rising by the day. Billions of Poland Spring bottles along with many others waiting for deliverance.

So, what are we waiting for?

Image courtsey: PUR water filters.


Anonymous said...

It was terrific! Loved it! You are so right, I can't really add anything to it. So I will add something like an anecdote, a real musing from our travel life.

Whenever we travel, anywhere we travel, including India, Africa, Europe, Asia, everywhere, we always take with us from home 2 emtpy plastic bottles from Vitamin Water that we buy very occassionally, or from Powerade which I use more often due to my running. Being a patient person and always coming to an airport ahead of time, I never get angry but rather get very entertained when the guys at the airport security gate pull out of our backpack these empty bottles, stare at them for a while, and then listen to our explanations that "we don't want to hurt the nature and dump too much plastic, and so we always buy very large canisters of water while abroad (alas, it is necessary in most of the countries outside of Europe, Japan and Israel), and then pour water from the canister into our bottles that we carry with us during the day". And on and on. You have to see their faces. And it makes me even more proud and more satisfied that we are doing the right thing.

Again, thanks for a great blog!!!

anna's musings said...

Thank you so much for writing in. As I read your comment, I visualized the puzzled look of those security personnel. And, yes, I think you are doing lot of right stuff for the environment. As someone who has traveled far and wide and more specifically as an eco-warrior, it would be great to know more about your experiences outside the US and in the US as well. Wish you had a blog too!

Shanty Mathew said...

Hi Minu,
Another relevant and impactful post.

The demand for bottled water is prompted by 3 factors:
1. The fear of non-bottled water created by the advertising and PR machinery of huge sugary-water corporations
2. The same corporation actually exploit and pollute natural fresh water sources
2. Their action is supported by officials who turn a blind eye

Ironically, it isn't the land that carries the burden of so much plastic - it is water!

I had blogged about it...

Proma Chatterjee Nautiyal said...

Hi Minu,

This article is really good and this is something that should really be controlled ASAP, because its not only the bottled water but also the fact that the plastic bottles contain carcinogens that become even more harmful when they are refrigerated.

Here is a video that I came across, its funny and informative, I hope you like it :)

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