Join WBNBW and drink up
We must join forces right here and right now. Join me in starting a new organization: Water Bottles Not Bottled Water (WBNBW)
Here’s how it used to work: We felt thirsty, and then we found a way to quench it. A drinking fountain, or a glass and a faucet, or a faucet with your head turned sideways without the glass, or a hose in the garden would do.
Not any more. Now everyone appears to carry a single use bottle of “from the spring” or “from who knows where” water. When we are done, we throw it away or recycle the bottle if it is handy to do so (generally it is not). This is supposed to be healthful for some reason. It appears to be the norm.
Now, I’m not in favor of dehydration. I’ve worked in pediatrics and I’ve seen the devastation created by the dehydrating effects of fever or virus. I’m not opposed to water bottles. If water will not be easily or safely available on a hike or a bike ride or during a tennis game, then fill a water bottle at home and take it along and wash it and use it again. No grounds for revolt.
It’s the increasingly available single-use bottle we must fight against. There are two solid reasons for joining WBNBW as a charter member.
The first is the obvious environmental abomination. Over 78 percent of statistics are made up on the spot, so let’s fabricate some here. Only one in 50 bottles of water that are recyclable end up being recycled (sounds about right). It takes two quarts of water to make one bottle of bottled water (probably close if you account for spillage, and the amount of water required to produce and wash the bottles).
And then there is the transportation factor. A commonly purchased brand of bottled water here in Northern California comes from Connecticut. It is extracted from the aquifer in New England, processed into a plastic bottle, and carried by truck or by rail to the foothills of the Sierra. How is it that we find this preferable to the alternative of walking to the kitchen, turning on the faucet, and drinking what comes right out of the tap?
The environmental impact is only half of it. The larger issue, in my view, is our obsession with satisfying our smallest wants. We drink before we feel thirst. We eat before we feel hunger. We crave satiety before need.
This comes at a cost. We have forgotten what it feels like to gulp at the fountain when we are parched. We may have lost that “hungry as a kid who has been swimming all afternoon” appetite. Perhaps we’ve lost the urge to create or make up a game or a song, or pull a dusty book off a shelf because we have a free hour to fill.
To have a need fulfilled is gratifying. To fill an imagined void robs us of true satisfaction. Ultimately both the environmental and the gratification impacts of bottled water are unsustainable.
That’s why we must start caring now. Let’s behave in every moment as if we are preparing the world to come as we would prepare a bed for an honored house guest who is certain to arrive. Let’s fold the future with lavender and air out the blankets in strong sunlight. Let’s smooth every wrinkle of what lies ahead. Let’s not be afraid to be hungry or thirsty or bored into creativity. Let’s examine our every act as if it mattered. Because it does.
As a member of WBNBW, you can make a game of finding all of Nevada County’s water fountains. Have fun cruising past the bottled water in the stores and vending machines. Put the money you save into an envelope and plan an adventure! Join now, during the driest part of the year and feel an enhanced sense of satisfaction as you fill your water bottle at home before a hike.
Joining WBNBW, of course, is just a small step. And everything ever written about small steps is true.
Ann Davis is a physician assistant and the mother of two sons. She lives in the Peardale area.
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