When might overcomes right.
We are fast getting to the point where the world is being run by a few big businesses. Each year, the division between the poor and the rich grows ever wider, the number of poor increases whereas only the wealth of the rich increases. The middlemen become marginalised and we all bow under the pressure of government sanctioned temptations.
You might say that has been the way of the world for centuries and the big will surely fall as they always do, quoting Ozymandias and pointing to the fall of the Third Reich, Hannibal and his elephants, Rome and the Ottomans.
But we are in the midst of a subtle, pervasive threat, conducted under the smiling and beneficious arms of the law, using our own laziness to run us into the ground and bleed us dry.
Paranoia, I hear you cry. Exaggeration and scaremongering, I hear you shout. Not so.
I recall as a child having to run down to the shops to replace my parents’ carbonated glass bottle for a few pennies – no wastage, all recycled. Then, a few years later, Perrier widely launched their expensive, pretty-bottled, carbonated water for sale in the UK, at an exorbitant price, and we were all bemused by the yuppies who had more money than sense, spending so much on a bottle of water just because it came from a spring.
Not long after that, ‘still’ water was launched and I distinctly recall saying, “idiots. Why on earth would anyone in the UK, which has one of the best water supplies in the world, pay for bottled water when they can drink it from the tap?” Now, bottled water is commonplace and if you go for a meal with friends and ask for a jug of water rather than buying a bottle, you are teased for being a cheapskate, when it is all about not buying into the hype. It is appalling that even schools sell bottled water to the children, perpetuating the fallacy that bottled is better and encouraging them to collude unwittingly in this environmentally disastrous enterprise which does nothing but line the pockets of the conglomerates at the expense of not only our own dwindling bank balances (we’ll get onto the disparity of pay rises between the working class and the politicians another day) but also at the expense of the environment.
Now, I’ve discovered the shocking news of cases in the United States where people are being sued for harvesting rainwater, including that of a man who built a lake, preserving the beauty and richness of the landscape. While on the other side of the fence, companies like Nestle are given the government golden-handshake to purchase a $524 permit to enable them to dry out waterbeds in drought ridden states in order to bottle water in order to make a profit at a detriment to the environment (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36161580).
This is not the only place this has occurred: there’s Africa – a continent for whose drought ridden countries we constantly have charity fundraisers (https://newint.org/blog/majority/2011/06/20/africa-water-privatization/); India and Latin America (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2006/mar/19/business.india1).
There are others, but the point is this: when companies bottle water and ruin the environment it is to supply an unnecessary demand! The solution: stop buying bottled water, then they’ll have no-one to sell to. Petition your schools to make bottled water a thing of the past to protect the future, teach your children to use a water fountain, or better yet, take a bottle of water into school with them.
We hear enough about plastic pollution, and bottled water is not only adding to that, but it is also destroying the watertables we have now. More worryingly still, the head of Nestle claims that access to rainwater is not a human right (http://naturalsociety.com/nestle-ceo-water-not-human-right-should-be-privatized/).
So, we have the pervasive persuasive push to encourage us to buy water in bottles, which perpetuates the drive to bottle more and so we buy more (it’s in plentiful supply right?) and create more pollution and more drought and so the cycle keeps turning.
There’s one other trap: you know how clever BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) is? A 50% discount only prompts you to buy 1 item, whereas with BOGOF they instantly sell twice as much. Well, it works the same in industry but on a much larger scale. The supplier stipulates that it will offer an additional x% if the merchant manages to sell y,000 units, otherwise they get the standard discount. So now, we have a reseller pushing his product to ensure (s)he meets that arbitrary target, which increases each year. I’ll give you an example: at my children’s school they sell bottled water (even though there are water fountains and the children have 20 minutes between lessons to fill up). I told my children they weren’t to waste money buying water and to fill up their bottles at the fountain. However, the school’s catering company now has a ‘meal deal’, whereby they have put the cost of the meal up by x% and it includes a bottle of water. The children who refuse the ‘free’ bottles of water are given funny looks.
Buying bottled water is now ‘cool’, ‘sensible’ and ‘convenient’.
How did this happen?
How did we become so gullible?
Did you know there are three different categories of bottled water? Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Table Water. Now, get this, Table water is filtered, sourced, TAP WATER. Yes, you heard me, tap water!
Our tap water is already safe to drink – it has to follow very strict rules and guidelines. Bizarrely, I could buy a permit and open my own company selling filtered tap water and everyone would buy it because (I want to scream) they have been encouraged to do so and we are all in the habit of drinking bottled water!
If you’re a pre-80’s child, do you remember what you used to do before bottled water became commonplace? If the answer is ‘yes’, start doing it again! For the rest of you, it’s really easy: when you’re thirsty, ask someone for a glass of water. Any establishment that serves alcohol has to serve free drinking (tap) water. It’s the law!
I would like, at this point, to give a huge shout out to The Oxford Playhouse (https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/) who have a jug of water just sitting there (no asking required) for patrons to help themselves to.
I’ll leave you one last thought. They say a clever salesman is one who can sell snow to eskimos (and we laugh because the purchaser is so gullible). Well, we now have companies that sell water to the populace of a country where it rains 30% of the year (on average).
Who’s laughing now?