Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Where water is, bread will come..."

  There is a poem by Rumi* that goes:

"Where water is, bread will come.
But not the reverse.
Water never comes from loaves.”

In it I think Rumi is using water as a metaphor for the spirit or the inner world, and bread for the outer. To me he is saying that when we take care of our inner lives, our outer lives will reflect that caring. In a world where there is so much emphasis on getting it together, on taking care of business, this is a radical approach. But it does not suggest sitting on a cushion all day, or withdrawing into a monastery, or ignoring the outer world in any way. Rather it is a suggestion that our inner well being is our first responsibility, and by creating harmony within we give a chance for harmony to manifest outside.

But in the world of water, it is not only a metaphor. When we get clean water to people in need, we are helping them to get bread on their tables. The very first step in alleviating poverty is clean water. Without it, sickness is inevitable, and when a person is sick they cannot feed themselves, cannot get up and go to work. When a family is on the breadline, this is devastating – a day without work becomes a day without food, which is a day without energy, and it spirals into a worse and worse situation.

That is why we are so focused on getting clean water to people in need, and why we are so horrified when, in the wealthiest countries, so many vital resources are wasted on the bottling of water. There is, simply, no harmony in supporting so much disparity . No harmony for the world, and no harmony within ourselves. It is a sign that we have separated ourselves from the rest of humanity in the most strong and perverse way.

At WonWater, through our project, we are beginning the work of developing water vending machines to sell chilled, filtered water into your own cup or bottle. The water will be filtered and chilled on the spot, making it better-than-bottled in taste, freshness, environmental impact, and cost, with none of the potential health implications of storing water for months in disposable plastic containers. When the project is up and running (so to speak) the profits will be channelled (sorry, more puns) into the WonWater Project – getting clean water to those in need, and bringing a type of harmony between the water needs of the richest and poorest among us.

*thanks to Coleman Barks for this translation and all his work.

Written by Gray Ramsey, founder of WonWater and

Monday, March 28, 2011

#bottledwater: 10 shockers 'they' don't want you to know about

Crickets in Water and Nobody Told You?

Crickets in Water and Nobody Told You?

Like any other products, water gets recalled, but more often than not you don't hear much about it.

There have been more than 100 recalls of contaminated bottled water, often months after the products were delivered to store shelves, says Dr. Gleick, who worries that the public rarely gets the memo.

What sorts of contaminants have been found in bottled water?

Benzene, mold, sodium hydroxide, kerosene, styrene, algae, yeast, tetrahydrofuran, sand, fecal coliform and other bacteria, elevated chlorine, glass particles, sanitizer, and crickets, says Gleick.

Yes, crickets.

Read more:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is the Life Cycle of a Plastic Bottle?

from an article on WiseGeek
Plastic bottles are used to package a wide variety of things, from juice to soft drinks, and they play a ubiquitous role in the lives of many consumers, along with other plastic products. With a growing awareness of the environmental issues which surround plastics, many people have become interested in the life cycles of plastic products, from manufacturing to eventual disposition in a landfill or recycling facility. Being aware of the process behind the production of plastics can encourage consumers to think more carefully about how they use and dispose of such plastics. Because plastic bottles are a very visible form of plastic use, plastic bottles make an easy target for activism and education.

The life cycle of a plastic bottle starts, obviously, with the creation of the plastic used to make it. The vast majority of plastic bottles are manufactured from petroleum, some of which comes from deposits as much as three billion years old. Some manufacturers use bioplastics made from plant materials to create their plastic bottles, out of concern for the environment.

In the case of a plastic bottle made from petroleum, the oil must be extracted before being shipped to a processing facility and then distilled to separate out the various hydrocarbons it contains. Oil extraction is performed all over the world in a variety of locations, and it has a number of environmental impacts. In areas where oil is drilled from the seafloor, for example, oil spills are common, and regions like the Middle East are famous for their heavily polluting oil fires, caused by intentional or accidental combustion of oil fields. In some nations, oil extraction is also bound up with a number of social issues. Nigeria, for instance, has an oil industry notoriously plagued with problems; oil workers are often poorly paid and exposed to very hazardous conditions, and periodic devastating fires along oil pipelines are not uncommon.

Once oil has been extracted, it is typically moved into container tankers for shipping to refinery facilities. At a refinery, the oil can be submitted to a variety of distillation processes, such as fractional distillation, where the crude oil is heated, causing its various components to separate so that the refinery can make gas, fuel oil, plastics, and a variety of other products. Crude oil can also be “cracked” with chemical catalysts to generate hydrocarbon chains of a desired length; this practice is common, because demand for various petroleum products constantly fluctuates, and cracking ensures that oil is used extremely efficiently and generates the maximum possible profit.

Most plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephtalate (PET) plastic, and almost all water bottles come from virgin plastic; an estimated 30% of the world's PET goes into plastic bottles. The plastic used in plastic bottles is made by mixing hydrocarbons extracted from crude oil with chemical catalysts, triggering polymerization. Next, manufacturers produce plastic pellets, which are melted down into “preforms,” which look like small test tubes; the preforms, in turn, can be heated, causing them to expand and turn into conventional water bottles. Typically bottling companies order preforms, expanding the water bottles at their own facilities as needed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Did you know that there was free water on tap at all London bus and rail stations

Exempt: tube stations which get notoriously hot will not get the tap water vending machines due to logistical problems

Free water on tap at all London bus and rail stations

Mark Prigg, Science Correspondent
10 Jun 2008 

Tap water vending machines could be installed in Tube and rail stations across London.
They would allow commuters to refill their water bottles, either for free or for a small charge, under plans announced by Thames Water today.
Andrea Riding, community liaison executive for the company, said: "There is a real momentum behind tap water but for people on the go it is a real problem. These machines would allow every rail and Tube station to offer free, chilled tap water.
"I think we have seen a real sea change in the attitude of Londoners to bottled water and now we hope we can bring that choice to people on the move as well."
She said Thames Water was in negotiations with several large agencies, includingTransport for London, about the scheme.
Mrs Riding continued: "We would hope that a company like TfL would run the operation and we think the machines would be a welcome addition to every Tube and bus station.
"It's something that will appeal to everyone, as you can simply fill a bottle on your way to work, then again on your way home."
The vending machines require a power socket and a connection to the water mains. They filter and chill the water and are also capable of selling reusable water bottles. Mrs Riding said the company was hopeful of winning the support of Boris Johnson, adding: "We worked with Ken Livingstone on this idea, so we are hopeful the new mayor will back it as well.
"There would be a nominal charge of perhaps 20p per half litre to cover the cost and upkeep of the machine but we are hopeful that a major sponsor could be attracted.
"The sponsor could have their advert on the machines and bottles and that way it should be possible to offer free tap water to everyone."
The announcement of the project comes in the wake of the Evening Standard's Water On Tap campaign, which aims to reduce the amount of bottled water Londoners consume because it is environmentally unfriendly.
More than 3,000 restaurants, bars and clubs in London have signed up by pledging to offer their customers free tap water alongside bottled.
The public's perception of bottled water is also changing. Shop sales fell by nine per cent to £284million in the year to March, according to independent retail analysts TNS 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bottled water Industry feels bubblers are "stupid"

In a press release the ABWI CEO, Geoff Parker, wrote:

"Replacing the option of bottled water with a convoluted scheme of filling stations and refillable bottles is stupid"

Hmmm. So drilling for oil, shipping it around the world, turning it into plastic, shipping it around the world, using energy to make it into a bottle, filling it with water (from a filling station?) loading it on a truck, driving it around the country, sticking it in a fridge, making people pay for it, then throwing away the bottle, which is picked up by a truck, driven around the country, buried in a hole in the ground, where it breaks down into little pieces, finds its way into the food chain, ..... now that would not be stupid would it? Not nearly as stupid as delivering cold, fresh. clean. unpackaged water by pipe for virtually free?