Friday, February 29, 2008

Petty Water Frustrations

Tap-water is a pretty remarkable thing. We think about it an awful lot in the southwest, or at least we're starting to. I remember water conservation edutainment plays from elementary school, and at summer camp in New Jersey I had a culture shock when the guys in my dorm left the faucet running while brushing their teeth. Scary, I know, but it struck me as something akin to blasphemy

So I'm a big fan of using little water, of using the cheapest water, and of being grateful for that water. If they existed, I'd probably be in favor of a still-suit dress code. Okay, that's a tad extreme, but it's my opposition to dress codes and not conservation that rules it out.

But this whole bottled water thing is frustrating, and I cannot fathom my numerous peers who have crates and crates of bottled water shipped to their dorm rooms, or my peers who will only drink water that has been purchased in gallon jugs from Whole Foods. I will carry my water in jugs when civilization has collapsed, but until then I am perfectly content with tap water, and cannot fathom the need for water that "tastes better".

This all would be an empty rant were it not for the high social costs of bottled water, and the very easy social gains of tap water. Bottled water is an entirely unnecessary product, and tap water is a vital social good. I'm behind the times, but today I found out about pre-paid cards for tap water. Brilliant invention of capitalism, but a terrifying loss of the common good. And, at the same time water is privatized (in such a way that facilitates the spread of water-borne diseases), New York City has had to launch a campaign to say "this tap water you guys have had for a surprisingly long time, you can drink it. It's cool, no really."

Bah. It's unfortunate that it takes the scarcity of the desert to produce some common sense.

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