The arguments made by Mr. Challinor in the April 19 edition of the Castlegar News, seemed to be a redundant circling of facts missing a large piece of the conversation surrounding bottled water: Reduction.
We could go into all the research about recycling programs in B.C., but recycling should be considered a last option in the line of consumption, not a solution. We, as a society, need to reduce our consumption of over- packaged products, especially when they are a life sustaining necessity which we are privileged enough to enjoy for free.
We should be asking why companies, like Nestle Waters Canada, supply a product to a country which has an abundance of the resource. If there are smaller water, petroleum, and greenhouse gas emission footprints for bottled water compared to other bottled beverages (which is really just comparing one first world luxury to another) then wouldn’t the cost of production be much less as well?
And wouldn’t that make the profits much higher for corporations? I don’t know for sure, but I think these questions should be asked because it seems when corporations have the chance to maximize profits they will compete to do so and ignore externalities.
For example: Where does the recycling go? Are all recycling facilities for B.C. located in B.C. or is some recycling outsourced to other countries? Does the product add value to customer’s lives? Does the product benefit the communities where resources are extracted, manufactured, produced, and distributed beyond a dollar figure?
As Mr. Chanillor pointed out, “bottled water’s health regulations must be as strong and protective of public health as provincial regulations for tap water.” So why would we pay for something as safe and which has existing public infrastructure? I do understand that some communities, like where I grew up in Robson, have boil water advisories, but boiling water or using re-fillable water coolers may be better options than bottled water.
In closing, I think we need to ask ourselves basic questions when we purchase anything, and especially bottled water: Do I need this, or do I want it? Is there an alternative option for me in this moment? Can I wait until I’m home or have a re-usable bottle or mug on hand? Reduction is easy for citizens if we make it a part of our lives, but it is not easy for corporations as reduction means less demand which means less production which means less profits. Let?s start asking the right questions together.