Did your Dasani kill a baby?
Two weeks ago, I participated in OSU's commencement ceremony in which several thousand students graduated. We sat under the hot sun for a few hours with great anticipation. But to soothe us in our wait, the OSU Alumni Association had provided large bottles of water under each seat. At the end of the ceremony, there were dozens of unopened bottles, and half drunk ones, all around Reser Field.
At the same time, research at OSU is pointing out how environmentally unsound bottled water is. Professor Todd Jarvis indicates that we spend about $20,000 a minute in the U.S. on bottled water. However, it is not better for us than normal tap water and there are serious environmental impacts as a result of having to produce the plastic bottles and ship them everywhere. About 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to produce the plastic for the bottles each year. and some 90% of them are not recycled, according to the Earth Policy Institute.
There may also be some important global justice implications involved in drinking bottled water. Peter Singer argues that in a world with so much wealth and income inequality (in which almost half the population must make do on less than $2 of purchasing power for all their housing, food, and health needs), drinking bottled water might be a luxury that we really should do without. Especially when we consider how the United Nations estimates that several million people die each year as a result of exposure to dirty water, then we might want to think about pouring billions of dollars into an industry that is essentially providing most of us with fur coats in summer.
Much of that money goes to soda corporations and almost none of it is reinvested into improving water systems. As the BBC reports, the world is facing a crisis in terms of access to potable water and future international relations (and wars) could be at risk. For the sake of a peaceful and just world, it seems we need to think about whether we can reduce our personal and institutional use of such products.