Justice is something that people have been struggling to define for as long as we have some record of a human history, of our legends and myths. The fact that Plato’s Republic, a text that specifically wrestles with the question of justice, is still widely read today is a testament to the fact that we don’t really have a clear cut answer. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we’ve got it backwards. I say this because when I see injustice, I tend to recognize it.
And it pisses me off.
The most recent injustice that hit me was the current world water situation. John and I watched a documentary called Flow, which argued pretty clearly that the world water situation is pretty bad. In the poorest places in developing countries it’s downright dismal, but even in the U.S., it’s not great. We need to make some serious changes.
And that’s the problem. Change is hard. It’s hard to take a massive global disaster and react with effective and sustainable protest over time. It’s not always feasible to drop what you’re doing to get fully on board with activism in a third world country, or even in your own neighborhood. Even if you figure out what to do, it’s easy to lose sight of the why or to justify personal laziness by downplaying the direness of the situation.
That in mind, I am going to make a pledge publicly to make a few changes in my lifestyle that will have a positive impact on the world water situation. Those of you who know me, I’m asking you to hold me accountable if you’re willing. And whether you know me or not, I’d encourage you to follow some of this research through and make your own pledge.
Here’s what I’m pledging, and why:
1. Boycott Bottled Water (individual & water cooler-sized):
→ The pumping of bottled water over-mines groundwater, which has serious ecological repercussions.
→ It is not actually more pure than tap water.
→ It uses buttloads (a technical term) of plastic.
→ The plastic leeches more crud into the water, like BPA.
→ Transportation of bottled water adds to the overuse of gasoline and road transportation.
→ And, oh yeah, the water available at fountains and sinks everywhere is already paid for.
2. Buy Organic Produce:
→ Most of the water use in the world is agricultural (upwards of 70%).
→ Organic farming methods use 30% less water and energy to produce an equal amount of crops with conventional, large-farm methods.
→ One of the major contaminants in U.S. water is a pesticide called atrazine that has been banned in the E.U. Organic farming doesn’t contribute to this (or any other) chemical contamination of the water.
3. Boycott Bottled Drinks in General:
→ Given that real change happens from within a community of invested parties, there are limited actions I can take against the injustices of privatized water in other countries.
→ HOWEVER…I am an American, which equals “consumer with a dollar vote that counts.”
→ THEREFORE…as long as Coke and similar companies over-mine the water resources of already poor countries and dump their carcinogenic industrial sludge on the local crops under the guise of “providing free fertilizer”…
→ I will not buy any of their products.
4. Vote for Water Justice
→ Support politicians who support R&D for cheap, efficient, locally sustainable water delivery
→ Support politicians who support water regulation in the U.S.
These things are a very small set of changes in my life, and honestly, they’re minor ones that involve me being more deliberate about my choices when I’m crabby and thirsty, or lazy before a vote. All the same, there are REALLY good reasons for making those changes, of which I’ve mentioned only a few. There are also many more ways to promote sustainable management of water, but this is a place to start.
For whatever it’s worth.
Oh, and by the way? Happy Earth Day!