For me, one of the most baffling developments of the past decade has been the rise of bottled water as a lifestyle commodity/fashion statement/comfort blanket. Not only have millions of seemingly sane individuals been persuaded to pay upwards of a pound for something that comes out of the tap for virtually nothing, they appear to believe that without constant access to H20, they might actually die of dehydration.
At what point did it become inconceivable for folk to attend meetings, take a short train journey or just walk down the street without a personal supply of water?
Don't get me wrong here. If you've got a mile to cover on a hot August afternoon, I'll turn a blind eye—even if I'll wonder why you don't grab a Coke for the same price. But, in general, I can't help but see the ubiquitous water bottle as a 21st century substitute for the dummy or, to drag this blog back into familiar territory, the cigarette.
It's particularly strange, is it not, that environmentalists are so quiet about something so unnecessary, so wasteful of plastic and so expensive to transport? Could it be that environmentalists are the very type of people who are in search of the ill-defined, but modish, trinity of health, purity and detoxification which makes them suckers for the bottled water industry?
This is little more than a personal hobby-horse, I grant you, but as this article in The Guardian shows, I am not alone.
As I sat in the cafe later, necking a hard-won jug of free tapwater, I realised how odd our relationship with water has become. Sure we've persuaded restaurants to stop charging us for it but no fewer people seem to be wandering around like overgrown babies, clutching plastic sucky-bottles.
Anyone with the brains to read (outside the ad agencies that come up with this sort of rubbish) must by now be aware that the argument that water 'detoxes' is entirely spurious, that the 'two litres a day' myth is just that and that buying water shipped from places like Fiji - even if it can be 'greened' through some 'offsetting' sophistry - is as immoral as it is absurd. Yet somehow, we've programmed ourselves deeply. Stand, sometime, in the queue at the airport; the last few feet before the metal detector, where the travelling classes are having their bottles torn from their hands by stone-faced airport stormtroopers. Witness the genuine pain on their faces.
It makes me want to throttle them all individually. It's bottled bloody water. You can survive without it until you get on the plane. You saw the security signs, you know that poor sod is only trying to stop someone blowing your holiday to smithereens over Staines, yet you act like you're being brutally deprived of a human right. You tut about waste as it's thrown into the blue bin as if it wasn't your own, vacuous credulity that made you give £1.50 to a multinational for it half an hour ago.
What I particularly like about this article is that—unusually, in an age when people think their opinions should be law—there is no call for higher taxes, or a ban on advertising, or a government-sponsored campaign to denormalise bottled water. Just a plea for sanity; a revolution in the head...
Our weapon should be ridicule. Next time you see someone with a bottle of water, be sure to point and laugh.
That's all that's required or, at least, is acceptable in a liberal democracy. If a campaign of ridicule doesn't work, then too bad for the writer of this fine article and too bad for me. I'm not saying bottled water should be banned. I'm not saying that we should burn effigies of people who drink bottled water (a new and real development for which words fail me, but Dick, Bella and Leggy have much to say).
I'm just saying it's a bit daft. It's only my opinion and you're free to disagree. It's your life. Live it as you wish. I just reserve the right to call you a bit of a twat. That's all.