Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is bottled water always evil?

I was at Newcastle Green Festival the weekend before last with the family. I wanted a break from the jazz-funk that is still prevalent at such events and went to get an ice cream from the park kiosk. "Can you get me a drink, I'm parched?" asked Kaz "but nothing fizzy, please." Of course when I got to the front of the queue, they only had Coke/Sprite/Fanta or bottled water, so I ended up, red faced, buying bottled water at an environmental festival.

"Hold on a minute," I thought to myself as I walked back to the family, trying to shield the offending bottle from imaginary critics, "if I bought a soft drink, I wouldn't think twice about it, yet the environmental impact of a carbonated drink with all that processed sugar in it (and just as much water), will be many times that of the water. Given that I'm here and buying a drink, I've taken the more eco-friendly option." I relaxed, relieved at the victory of logic over dogmatism.

This is the kind of mental cul-de-sac the environmental debate can get stuck in. Plastic carrier bags, bottled water and 4x4s are labelled eco-nasties, yet there are almost always worse options that you can take without raising an eyebrow. I think a sprinkling of common sense is needed so we don't end up bouncing between simplistic knee jerk positions.

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