Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bottled water or not?

I don't know what this guy is complaining about. If bottled water were banned, then can't he bring his own water bottle or go into a kopitiam and order a cup of water? No one is asking him to drink from the tap in toilets. His post becomes even more ludicrous when he says that bottled water is a 'basic right'. Excuse me but I can't seem to find the right to bottled water anywhere in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Bottled water is a sheer waste of money. Hardly anyone used bottled water when I was growing up in Singapore. It didn't make any sense to me to pay money to get what I could bring from home for free. I had the habit of bringing my own water bottle when I went to the gym or to office. There were occasions when I bought bottled water but it was only when I forgot to or could not bring my own water bottle. Using bottled water is a habit that Singaporeans acquired only in the last 15 years as a result of increasing material affluence.

This reminds me of some self-centered Singaporeans who complained when they were charged 10 cents for a plastic bag on the Bring-Your-Own-Bag (BYOB) day. Excuse me but even my Chinese-educated Zaobao-reading Channel 8-viewing retiree parents know better and bring their own bags every time to NTUC. (In fact, I'm proud to say, they are more conscientious than I in terms of recycling.) They also have enough sense to bring their own water bottles when they go out.

And I haven't even touched on the environmental effects of plastic water bottles. A lot of the plastic water bottles end up in the ocean. That's how we got the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. What about the oil and gas that we have to use to produce the bottles?


Chee Wai Lee said...

Bottled water is both a scourge (during the manufacture and disposal process) and a source of convenience, even safety. I think there has to be a balanced approach to how we deal with it.

I do not think it is a "right" nor do I think we should ban it outright.

For example, as tourists in India unaccustomed to the local sources of water, properly-bottled water (or sources of distilled/boiled water) is the difference between enjoying your trip and risking sickness. While we were in the foothills of the Himalayas, it is not easy to simply stop at some random place to get a clean water supply. We made sure, however, that we disposed of those bottles as responsibly as we could.

Fox said...

Chee Wai, I don't disagree with you but we are talking about Singapore.

I don't favour an outright ban but maybe a tax on all plastic bottled drinks - bottled water or soft drinks. Alternatively, we should have many more recycling bins in Singapore AND inculcate the habit of recycling plastic bottles. Too often, people just dump normal trash into recycling bins.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Agreed, an environment tax on it and better education about recycling would help a lot in the Singapore context. In the Himalayas, we basically had to haul all the empty bottles (we had a bus) all the way back to civilization before we disposed of them.