Column this week
If ever some alien society was looking for a way to effectively poison and therefore incapacitate humanity, with the eventual goal of taking over the world, bottled water would be the perfect weapon. Think about it – it’s ubiquitous, especially in the so called developed world and is also to be found in the developing world. It’s one of those things to which a strange, unaccountable status is attached, so that only the poorest of the poor aren’t seen walking and gulping its overpriced but well marketed contents.
Think about it – it would prove a brilliant means of them executing their plot to take over the world. In a matter of weeks – perhaps even days – they’d have rendered powerless all the people who would have been the most resistant and most able to foil their dastardly plot i.e. the rich, the “wanna be” rich, the health freaks, university students, politicians and Justin Timberlake.
I know we’re accustomed to hearing only about celebrity demands for Moet and Courvoisier but bottled water has joined the ranks my friends. Justin – he who barely escaped marrying the now famously unhinged Britney – recently had a series of concerts in London where he ordered 7,000 bottles of Fiji Water to drink during his stay there. It caused an outrage – as it should – since it took place around the same time the Live Earth concerts were going on. The Live Earth concerts in themselves should have caused an outrage, since it involved dozens of stars flying in private jets around the world to perform at concerts where they told people to ride bicycles to work instead of cars to save the environment.
Now this isn’t the most expensive water there is. That honour goes to Bling H2O which retails at US$38 a bottle. With frosted glass bottles and imitation “ice” on the label, it’s a primal scream for attention based on what has to be a deep level of personal insecurity. Must be a sure way to get chicks though. I mean, if a guy can spend US$38 for a bottle of water he must be loaded right? Or at least foolish enough to be willing to spend his money to appear so. So at least Justin went for water with a cheap purchasing price, but considering the fact that it must be transported thousands of miles to get to him, plus the non biodegradable plastic packaging – not to mention the sheer amount (who drinks that much water!?) the final price works out to be pretty high indeed.
Just when pipe water became a bad thing I’m not quite sure. It seems that one day we woke up and suddenly became paranoid that the water we grew up drinking was going to result in a horrible, gut destroying death. I mean, it didn’t kill our parents, or their parents or even – maybe I should stop there, I don’t think tap water goes that far back. Seems like a rip off, unless you’re on the road and don’t have access to a pipe really. And it’s a pretty expensive rip off too. I can’t remember the price of bottled water back home, but let’s say it costs TT$1 and you buy a bottle a day. That works out to be TT$365 spent each year. On water. Which you can get free. And most people drink more than one bottle of water a day, which the health gurus tell us to do. Most people don’t seem to have a problem with this it seems.
The International Bottled Water Association estimates that bottled water sales increase about 10 percent each year in the United States alone. In the UK, sales of bottled still water has outstripped that off Coca Cola. It’s a healthier choice, yes, but when you outsell Coke you know business is good. And the thing is, a number of the bottled water is tap water that’s been purified and filtered. And they say so on the label!
So back to the pop stars and the wanna be pop stars and those of us who think we’re doing the right thing chugging bottled water instead of “swee’ drink”. It’s estimated that every year, about 22 million tonnes of bottled water are transported worldwide. And as if the carbon emissions weren’t enough, most of the bottles are made from non-degradable plastics, which takes hundreds of years to break down. Which seems pretty ridiculous considering the fact that if you get abandoned on a deserted island somewhere you’ll drink from any mosquito infested creek you find. Gladly.
So to get back to the original point, the aliens would have a pretty easy run of things, wouldn’t they? I mean, if they poison the water the only resistance they’ll have to contend with really are our grandparents and cheapskates. Well, and a few Trinis well who buy one bottle of water and keep refilling it from the tap and coasting like normal.