ATFMB – Bottled Water

On September 22, 2011, in ATFMB, by Patrick Hester

Welcome to All Things From My Brain.

Bottled Water.

It’s hot, freaking hot. The A/C in your car doesn’t seem able to keep up with the heat bubbling up from the blacktop-road, causing sweat to bead on your forehead, in your armpits and, let’s face it – some other places you probably don’t want to advertise.

You pull into the nearest quickie-mart, head inside and pull a bottle of ice-cold water from the refrigerated wall-o-drinks. The 16 oz bottle costs you a couple of bucks, but you find it cool and refreshing, so what the heck, right?

Now, ask twenty-years-ago-you what they think. Better yet, let us travel together to the planet where the Guardian of Forever resides. We’ll use this fantastic device to visit your parents when they were your age, and ask them what they think about paying $2. For water. In a bottle.

"All it was..." Whew!

Okay, now we have to head back to our time without stepping on any cockroaches…

If you tell someone that something is rare, or difficult to get, they will put a value on it in their heads. Especially rich people. Tell them that something is one of only a handful of somethings, and they will go nutso to have it. Not quite on the level of Gollum searching out his precious, but then again – not far from it.

Consider diamonds for a moment. Marilyn sang that Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I can see that, as long as the girl isn’t working in a diamond mine. Diamonds are definitely the favorite gemstone world wide – we put them in engagement rings, necklaces, ear rings, we also use them in drills, or to precision cut mirrors for things like telescopes. Diamonds, in short, are very popular.

They are also rigidly controlled. This means that only so many diamonds are put on the market each year, keeping demand high and with it, prices.

Now back to water. Water isn’t rare. 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. So why would anyone pay for a bottle of it when they can just turn on the tap and watch it flow?

Despite what you or I might think today, water has always been a commodity. Sure, 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, but try drinking that water. Bleh. Salty. Salt water is great for salt water fish, or for turning Patrick into a beet-red miserable wretch on the beach, but not so much for humans looking to quench their thirst. We prefer fresh water, and that isn’t always available.

People used to build communities around water sources, near wells or streams where good, fresh water was available to them. When the water dried up, they moved on to the next source of fresh water. Eventually, people got a little smarter and figured they could bring the water to them through various types of irrigation. This made life a little easier, as rain water could be channeled where it was needed, so could swollen rivers and lakes.

(Side note: Water rights was a staple of Westerns. You always had some land owner trying to become a land Baron or something, by stealing peoples lands or diverting the flow of water to their land and away from everyone else who needed it, thus creating a supply/demand thing. End side note.)

Fast forward to today. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a particularly old place, maybe a house or an apartment building, turned on the tap, heard a gasp/wheeze of air (maybe a groan and a rumble) followed by a sputter of brownish (brackish) water.

Anyone? One, two, three… okay, too many to count. Still, you get the point I’m making. Good, clean water, still a thing people want today. There’s a documentary out there about various Colorado (and other states) folks who, when they turn the tap on, the water that comes out is not only undrinkable, you can light it on fire. Yep. They snap a lighter near it and the water burns.

Water shouldn’t burn, people. (Check out that documentary, I believe it’s on Netflix – called ‘Gasland’.)

But should water cost $2 a bottle?

There was a study done that showed bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle to produce, while tap water costs less than a penny. Consider that the next time you’re at WalMart buying a flat of 48 bottles.

Did you realize that we have a generation who has never not had the Internet? (never not… that works, right? You get what I’m saying?) It gets better – that same generation has grown up with bottled water. Many think that bottled water is better than tap water, I mean, it has to be – you pay more for it, right? When something is expensive, it has more intrinsic value, right? Like diamonds.

I wonder if those same kids, the ones who drink bottled water and not tap water, have issues with their teeth. Did you know that fluoride is added to drinking/tap water in the U.S.? Around 1951, the U.S. Officially began adding fluoride to the drinking water of its citizens. Other countries, including the U.K., Spain, Ireland, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Korea, the Philippines and Brazil have adopted similar programs and policies. Bottled water doesn’t add fluoride, nor do they measure any natural occurring levels. That’s something to consider.

(Insert comment about 9 out of 10 dentists recommending…)

When I was a kid, we would ride our bikes down the street to the public school, and play basketball or tag or hide and seek until the sun went down. We would drink from the water fountains, or we’d hit somebody’s house, turn the hose on and drink until our stomachs hurt. Remember that game where the first kid would turn the water on a little, wait for whoever was drinking to really stick their face in, then you’d turn that sucker on full blast?

When was the last time you saw a kid drink from the garden hose?

(Hell, when was the last time you let your kids ride off on their bikes, alone, and without a dozen parents around?)

I buy bottled water when I’m heading out for the day, maybe if I’m going up into the mountains. I do it because it’s convenient, which is sort of the point of bottled water.

But for every other day of the week, I use a large reusable cup, which I clean a couple times a week & almost always have with me, and I fill it from the water filter in my refrigerator, which is hooked up to – the tap.


Next time on ATFMB – 3D Is Pointless (except in Avatar).

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3 Responses to ATFMB – Bottled Water

  1. And here I was *sure* you were going to go for a Dune reference…

  2. Amen, Brother Patrick. I’ve been trying to eschew the giant water cooler in the break room for the tap. This gives me greater incentive.

  3. My house water is terrible, so not only do I buy bottled water for the house, but I keep a case in the trunk of my car. :/

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