Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly annoyed with those who want to tell me how to enjoy my water. Only a few days ago, a ban on single-use plastic water bottles took effect in Concord, Mass. At about the same time, the University of Vermont outlawed the sale of such containers on its leafy campus.
For reasons I will explain later in this post, these measures are absurd overreactions. Now, if you want to ban my preferred method of drinking water, I want to ban your preferred companion. That might happen in New Zealand, where respected economist Gareth Morgan has made the case that domestic cats “are endangering the country’s rich avian diversity.”
Your average house cat, Morgan tells us, is a member of a globally invasive species and is no better than “a friendly neighborhood serial killer.” Outdoor felines are estimated to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of birds a year. A large percentage of the dead are either ground nesters or baby fledglings. Often, we are told, the mischievous felines aren’t even hungry. They just kill the birds for sport.
Back in the day, cats were highly desirable to have on the family farm or even in your home to hold the mice population in check. But industrial farms and newer homes have made that role all but obsolete. And the domestication of cats has resulted in a severe lack of natural predators. Chances are the only way your house cat is going to die is either of old age or from being eaten by … another cat.
You see where I’m going with this? I don’t like cats. They’re bad for the environment and you shouldn’t have one. So let’s forbid the sale and ownership of the voracious little fiends. Sound a little crazy? So is wanting to ban bottled water.
The rationale for the prohibition of the sale of single-use water bottles (Poland Spring et al) is that the transportation of all that water is a waste of fuel since we could all just fill up reusable bottles with tap water. In other words, you don’t “need” Dasani, so stop drinking it.
Some of the beverage police also say it’s wasteful to put all those plastic bottles into landfills. But you could make that case for soda pop as well. You don’t need Dr. Pepper. The cans are a waste of resources. Dr. Pepper makes you fat. You should be filling up a reusable with tap water and drinking that, so ban Dr. Pepper, too. Why do they pick on water? Because it’s the low-hanging fruit?
Like soda cans, single-use water bottles are fully recyclable. But unlike soda cans, those water bottles aren’t always subject to the five-cent deposit — though they are in Connecticut and Maine. Even in states where there is no deposit, Poland Spring bottles should not wind up in the solid waste stream. So again, they are no different from soda pop bottles and cans.
Finally, there are the political motives of some of those who want take away my Saratoga Spring. Here’s the comment of a recent UVM graduate, Mikayla McDonald:
Bottled water is a symbol of our culture’s obsession with commodifying things that should be public trust resources.
In other words, water should be free? Tell that to the corporations and municipalities that invest billions in infrastructure to bring water to your tap. Or to the companies and workers who manufacture household wells or generate electricity.
Oh, how I wish I were a college student with enough spare time to worry about banning the sale of things I don’t like because I think they should be free.
And I can tell you one thing, Ms. McDonald. If you want to take away my Aquafina, you have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.