Conservation > Consumption

Water, Please
by Ron McLinden

It’s summer again, and with summer comes increased consumption of liquid refreshment.

Our industrial economy has devised many ways of refreshing us. All of them involve parting with some of our money, and most of them involve “signing on” to a corporate identity or lifestyle image. The beverage folks have even lured some of us into displaying corporate logos on clothing and accessories, thereby making us extensions of corporate marketing programs.

Along with all of this goes the cost — and waste — of packaging. Even “recyclable” aluminum, plastic, and glass containers impose a heavy burden on the environment.

Here’s a suggestion: resolve to consume more of your liquid refreshment in the form of water: plain old tap water, distilled or filtered if you prefer, with or without ice or a touch of lemon.

A couple of decades ago social philosopher Ivan Illich invented the term “radical monopoly.” Radical monopoly isn’t found in the fact that Coke or Pepsi dominates the soft drink industry. Radical monopoly lies in the fact that an industrially-produced, artificially-colored, pre-sweetened, carbonated, refrigerated, packaged beverage has come to be regarded as the answer to thirst.

When we are thirsty, our bodies are asking for water. Just water. We don’t have to give up soft drinks entirely. But this summer, let’s give our bodies more of what they are asking for in the form of just what they are asking for.


Note: This modest plea first appeared a few years ago in the Heartland Sierran, newsletter of the Thomas Hart Benton Group of the Sierra Club in Kansas City.