You may have seen the news on Facebook or heard the stories on NPR: Concord, Massachusetts, has banned bottled water, and certain "liberal" colleges in Vermont have banned it, too. Al Gore spent a lot of his media attention after the huge success of Inconvenient Truth blaming bottled water (and incandescent lightbulbs) for our climate problems. Not GMOs, which he helped make possible. Not Diet Pepsi from a can, which I've seen him drink. Not high-fructose corn syrup or biofuels, which he also helped make possible. But bottled water--the ONLY healthy cold drink available for sale. And probably the only cold drink that does not have a massively funded lobbying arm behind it.
And yet it isn't politicians leading this campaign, it's well-meaning individuals--ENVIRONMENTALISTS--cheering on the success of keeping kids from having a nice cold drink of water.
I remember the world before bottled water. I remember pulling into a gas station when I was a teenager and looking at a soda machine and making a desperate wish that one day...ONE DAY...I would be able to get some nice cold water out of there. Why? What drinking fountains of the day dispensed was almost always foul tasting and lukewarm. And I have always found sugary drinks to leave a horrible aftertaste that actually makes me MORE thirsty, not less. I often pack my own water. But sometimes, sometimes--like on a road trip--that water runs out or gets too warm to drink. Sometimes my kids cry in the backseat that they are thirsty and really want water. Not soda, which they don't even really like, but water! What am I supposed to say to them? "Sorry, honies, but you have to drink soda"?
In this day and age when there are thousands of studies that show the horrible health effects of soda--diet, high-fructose corn syrup, or even real sugar loaded--THIS is what our environmentalists spend their time fighting for?! How about fighting to keep our water clean and free of pesticides, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals that poison all of us, no matter whether it comes from a faucet or a plastic bottle? How about working to ban Pepsi?! (Not Coke, please, which makes me feel better when I feel sick). Or how about working to ban all plastic?! I'd much rather drink my water from a glass bottle anyway, given the effects of plastic on health. But is that banned too?
Come on, people, please turn your righteousness in the right direction! Banning water might feel like a win in the short term, but it's a major loss in the long term. And the biggest loss is the misdirection of energy it creates in very intelligent people who could otherwise be solving real problems.
I believe Al Gore means well (after all, Rodale Inc. did publish Inconvenient Truth, and I'm a big fan of Laurie David). But we have to get our priorities in order, and environmentalists need to deeply understand that saving "energy" is useless if we are all insane and sick from toxic chemicals.
As I always say, the planet--our dearest Earth--will be just fine without us. It's us that we need to save. This is just one more piece of evidence that we have a long, hard road ahead of us...with nothing cold to drink except soda.
photo credit: TheDigitel Myrtle Beach
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com