Plastic bottles of water.
We buy plastic bottles of water.
Why the bloody hell, at least in the west, do we buy plastic bottles of water?
And, hang on a minute, before we even start wondering why we pay stupid amounts of money for a commodity that is virtually free, we even pay for those silly little contraptions on the tops of the bottles that you grip with your teeth, pull, and then, if it works, and doesn’t just break off, enables you to squirt the water through this nozzle into your mouth.
All of this just to save you unscrewing the cap and taking it off.
The dreadful labour of having to unscrew the cap.
And taking it off.
Perhaps that is why we buy the bottled water – to save us the bother of turning a tap and holding a glass beneath it to catch the water.
So why do we do it?
It costs…well, tap water is all but free. For example, in California tap water costs one tenth of a cent per gallon.
In the UK my local water company charges £1.248 per cubic meter, which is 220 gallons, for water. This makes it just over half a penny a gallon.
Bottled water? On sale in my local supermarket for £1.50 for 3 litres. On special offer. There are approximately 4.5 litres in a gallon, so this costs out at £2.75 per gallon, which is approximately 550 times more expensive than tap water. Or, if you like, you are paying under half a penny for the water, and almost the entire £2.75 for the plastic bottles.
Feel good about that?
Perhaps the bottled water is far superior to the tap water?
Nope. Sorry about that, it’s not.
First of all, approximately half of it comes from the tap in any case. Yup, that’s right. The company that flogs it to you gets it from out of the tap.
And as for the rest, tap water is subject to more stringent quality and health standards than bottled water is, in any case. In tests on water in the USA last year, tap water came out better.
So are the huge, multinational soft drinks companies who manufacture these things doing it for our benefit?
You bet they’re not. They’re doing it because they can see an easy and gigantic profit.
We could do worse than talk to our old friend, Mr Satan Moneyglutton, the anonymous CEO of a major soft drinks company, at this point.
‘I honestly don’t know what you’re whingeing about. You want convenience, don’t you? What could be more convenient than pouring all of your money into our coffers?
‘Tap water is so yesterday. It’s inconvenient. We have declared war on tap water. When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to irrigation and washing dishes.
‘And we are working hard to persuade restaurants not to give tap water to diners, but force them instead to purchase our bottled drinks.
‘It is helpful, of course, that most towns and cities seem to have stopped building and maintaining public water fountains, thereby forcing the thirsty citizen to purchase a canned or bottled drink.
‘Furthermore, with the spread of those nasty windfarms and tidal power generators, the future for oil as a source of power is, sadly, looking a wee bit unhealthy.
‘Clearly, there’s no point in leaving the oil in the ground where it’s of no use to anyone, so it makes sense to step up the manufacture of plastics which, incidentally, will make me even richer.’
So, there you go.
‘Nice bottle of water, sir? Only £1. And would you like a plastic bag full of air with that? Only £1.50.’
Don’t laugh – it’ll happen soon, I’m certain.