I have not done too well. In my personal fight, if it can be called that, against bottled water. On second thoughts, no, it is not a fight. It’s an aversion. If I buy bottled water, I am teased by a nagging guilt for the next two minutes. Two minutes is usually how long it lasts before I offer myself a placebo of rationality. I buy a lot of canteens and keep losing them. I try to carry one wherever I go and left alone, I would rather die of thirst before buying a plastic bottle but I can’t possibly subject my friends to that kind of masochism. It is not enough to cut plastic from your solitary life, the real challenge lies in eliminating it socially and therefore totally. Today I visited the Red Fort. In India, tap water is not safe for drinking, not by far. At home we boil-cool-filter the water, which is tantamount to nuclear war on the germs. I carried a canteen of this water with me and as my friend and I were putting on our shoes I mumble something about taking perhaps one more. Then someone mumbled something about it being too much weight to carry. This someone carries two full suitcases to every International trip regardless of duration and always has to open their bags and transfer things to other people’s carry-on luggage in order to check in without paying the fee. Once I carried an entire dinner set in my carry-on bag.
I honestly don’t understand it. Every time I mention something about trying to avoid buying bottled water, there is at least one person, usually more, who tries to to either make me feel bad about it or rolls their eyes or tries to explain to me that you-just-have-to-do-certain-things-in-life. NO YOU DONT. Oh, sometimes they’ll indirectly question my motive. Do I care about the Earth or my wallet? Please.
Yes, my own comfort is less important to me than the environment. George Carlin hates the EPA. He thinks the plane survived the ice-age and meteors, it can deal with a few plastic bottles, he says. Well the planet may be able to deal with them, I can’t. They’re ugly. They are a major burden to someone who has to sort through them. Birds eat pieces of them and bleed internally. I have no intention to saving the planet for posterity, Mr Carlin, I know fully well my place in this Universe. I am as significant as a sub-atomic particle and hence cannot save the world. But I can’t do that to the birds, I cant do that to the fish. I can’t do that to the 8 year old kids in the slums in Dongri, Mumbai who sort through our trash. I can’t accept a hideous sea of plastic bottles outside some place as sublime as the Jumma Masjid.
“You shouldn’t be so extreme about things.”
“What kind of naive attitude is this? You have any idea how much more damage is happening to the world for other reasons?”
“Other people have to start doing it, just you doing it is not enough.”
The truth is I refuse to back down any more or make it easy for any of you assholes. I cannot accept plastic bottles in my life so please know that ahead of time before you choose to spend time with me.
In India, there is a real problem. Tap water is no safe so you can’t go to a restaurant or be out in public and just drink the water. Unless you wanna risk getting dysentery. A case can possibly be made for purchasing bottled water, although people need to start carrying canteens OR hold it together until you can get clean water.
In the US, you can just drink the water anywhere. For heaven’s sake. Its possible the newspaper is just spreading non-corroborated information but this is music to my ears. San Fran is banning plastic bottles later this year, just like plastic bags. So if you were one of those princes who was too good for tap water, you’re toast buddy. Dry, dehydrated toast.