Good to the last dropPublished 10:49am Friday, December 2, 2011
Last month there was an article in Newsweek about what Americans drink.
Graphs showed how much beer American’s drink, state by state, in comparison to beer consumption in other countries. North Carolinians consumed between 19 and 25 gallons per person in 2010. Ireland consumed 31.7 gallons per person and the Czech Republic drank 42.5 gallons per person in 2010. Maybe that’s because it’s so cold in those places, or there’s not much else to do. Your guess is as good as mine.
What I found interesting on the graph however has nothing to do with beer; it has to do with America’s annual consumption of soft drinks and bottled water. We’re drinking less soda pop and more water, which is a good thing. My big question is: Why are we paying money to drink water out of plastic bottles when we’ve had it available to us for free for thousands of years?
Americans drink 44.7 gallons of soda pop and 28.3 gallons of bottled water per person every year. Allen and I just got back from a mission trip to Guatemala, so we have firsthand experience of buying water. The average price for a 12-ounce bottle of water is about $1. Of course it would be cheaper to buy the water in gallons, but that’s not how we do it. We buy the smaller bottles for convenience then throw away the empty bottle, again for convenience. Using that scenario, we spend up to $10 per gallon for bottled water. Americans drink 28.3 gallons a year. Which, multiplied by $10 per gallon equals $280 per year per person spent for the convenience of having clean water to drink wherever we go. That would be $560 for a couple.
Now, how many of us would be willing to pay $500 more in county, state or federal taxes so we could all drink clean water whenever we want? You already know the answer.
Is it a coincidence that corporations have managed to profit from pollution that they very likely helped create? Business for medical professionals and pharmaceuticals is booming thanks to asthma, cancer, obesity and other health issues directly related to air, water and soil pollution. Coca-Cola owns the recycling facility in Spartanburg, making a profit from the bottles made by their own and other companies because it was more profitable to put their product in plastic than in re-usable glass bottles. Coka-Cola is making money at every point in the process, and we are paying the price, in more ways than one.
Can we stop being pawns of corporations? Can we start saying “no” to such things as bottled water and bring our own? Are we willing to put the hundreds of dollars that we spend on bottled water into fixing our streams, and start calling corporations to task so they can no longer pollute willy-nilly just to guarantee us better stock dividends? Protecting those dividends will look pretty shortsighted when all that is left for us to drink and breathe is toxic.
Our system is out of whack. What happens if we start using our money and energy to speak out against the ruination of what is most precious to all life: food, air and water?