2017-08-14 Mon

Bottled Water

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The headline is a bit of a scare tactic; the article speaks of households “drinking primarily bottled water”, and we don’t learn want “primarily” means. In some senses “primarily” can mean anything more than 50%, in other cases I would have it mean “over 95%”. Depends on the context, and how I feel about it.

There is no doubt whatsoever that bottled water is a scourge. No matter what argument you make for carrying (let alone purchasing) a plastic bottle of water, there is no excuse for tossing it onto the sidewalk or into the road or amongst the flowers and shrubs.

I concede that carefully treated and sealed bottled water is useful in hospitals and medical emergencies - Rinsing eye’s if one has blepharitis, for example – so I am not against bottled water.

I am against the careless use of bottled water in Toronto, a city with a very safe water supply, despite it being pumped from Lake Ontario.

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So I note with interest a second article headed “Easier access to tap water needed”, which is a load of old hoo-hah.

I carry a plastic water bottle with me wherever I go. I bought a bottle of orange juice in Paris in September 2014, and I do so love the little orange-capped memento.

I refill it at home, in the library, and I take a sip during long meetings.

I prefer a carrot or an apple when traveling, if only because apples and carrots don’t spill, and they provide bulk as well as water.

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But I can’t let this slip by without a comment.

People in Toronto have great access to tap water where they live, work and play.

The tap water in your home or apartment is usually pretty good. It is always drinkable. Back in 2006 I took my landlord to court on account of the yellow mud that would settle in a half-litre bottle of water overnight, and won financial compensation and a water filter. He didn’t fix the problem, but the City of Toronto came and tested the water for free and proved that the problem lay in the building’s pipes, nit in the supply coming in from the street.

The tap water where you work is openly available. When was the last time you visited an office as a contractor or consultant and didn’t spot a kitchenette with a sink, taps, microwave and so on? I can’t recall ever being involved in a business that didn’t have some form or tap water available in the lunchroom. And despite municipal paranoia (those damn lawyers are at it again), there is little harm in refilling your water bottle in a washroom. A small does of other people’s bacteria can be tackled by our own systems, and you rinse the spigot before use, and the water flows directly into your bottle.

And those library books, handrails, door handles, and even the push-buttons in the elevators are all coated with a film of bacteria from the last forty users. Don’t be so squeamish; we ARE a colony of bacterial cells. Get used to it.

Play can be a bit tricky. Tap water is available in all sports arenas, by law there must be washrooms and hence taps. A pickup game of baseball in the park behind your house may be a problem, but then I’d debate about a game where you needed more than a half-litre of water to rehydrate yourself, so your reused regular with-me-everywhere bottle fits the bill.

No. The problem with plastic bottles of water is sheer laziness. People are too lazy to carry their bottle from home to work, and so will fork out $1.50 to $2.00 several times a day instead of using the water they have already paid for in their utility bill (or in my case, as part of my rent).

Observations

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We are in Year Two of the three-year odyssey of relaying sod in the College Park, College Street between Bay, Gerrard, and Yonge Streets.

On August 3rd I noticed that the concrete has been poured and has set but, of course, the construction fencing will be left in place to obstruct the sidewalk for a few more months. I’m betting that it will still be here when I return from Newfoundland.