I am a quasi-environmentalist. I’m not a global warming doubter or flagrant polluter. On the other hand, I haven’t been terribly vocal about environmental issues apart from our dependence on expensive, exhaustible, polluting fuels derived from countries that want to see us all dead.
Gas-guzzling SUVs are not a basic need; they are most often bought as a status symbol, not to transport families to soccer games. (People buy minivans for that purpose.) As long as petroleum companies own our government, though, we won’t see clean alternative fuels used to any great extent very soon.
There are some habit changes that are out of the question as far as I’m concerned, even though they may help the environment, because they touch on basic needs. One is the use of air conditioning. People die from excessive heat in the South the way people die from extreme cold in the North during winter. (A prejudice exists that heat is a necessity, while air conditioning is luxury. This simply isn’t true.) It isn't possible to function normally around here (Florida) much of the time without that artificially cooled air.
Another habit change that's off the table is buying bottled water.
Cities like Salt Lake City and San Francisco are banning bottled water use by city employees because of all the plastic that’s ending up in landfills. It’s just a matter of time before they extend the band to their respective citizens.
Bottled water has been maligned for other reasons before now. It’s trendy. It’s not really cleaner than tap water. Why would you buy water when it comes out of the tap “for free?”
I’ll address these: Tap water in many places tastes like shit, or chemicals or the tap itself. You actually can drink bottled water down without holding your nose. When it comes to things you ingest, taste goes a long way to determining your choices, my friends. (And if it isn’t cleaner than tap water, they sure as hell do a good job of making it seem cleaner.)
Tap water is, of course, not free. You pay a monthly water bill, if you're like most people. And trendiness, well, that's an unfortunate result of putting out a really great product.
The convenience of bottled water – grab a bottle and hit the road – is also appealing, but certainly not essential.
In Florida, we're actually encouraged to stock up on bottled water for a large portion of the year. We have these hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, you see. Water mains break and taps go out. Electricity goes out, and you can’t trust that tap water is safe to drink, nor can you boil it before consuming it. In these situations, bottled water becomes the single most important commodity – more so than food or fuel. (Need I bring up the fact some people died from dehydration after Hurricane Katrina in a city that was more or less under water?)
So, when another quake hits San Francisco (sorry, Bird) and breaks water pipes, I wonder if residents will be licking moisture from under rocks like a toad and cursing their environmentally sound ways? I hope it doesn't come to that. But between quakes and fires and mudslides, California has its share of natural disasters. Something to think about.
Concerned about bottled water’s impact on the environment? Develop biodegradable containers, ones that dissolve after a certain period of disuse. While the container may be problematic, the liquid held within is an absolute necessity.
If bottled water is banned I will stockpile it. And when Gonzo sends the ATF, er, EPA to my compound to take me away, they’ll get what they have coming to them: Water balloons filled with the good stuff! Take that, coppaz!!!
When I think of bottled water, I think about what a man once said: "Can’t touch this!"