Another area the young can lead…

All over the world, more and more people are turning to drinking bottled water. While fancy restaurants can serve you water flavoured with lime, orange or other fruits in beautiful glass bottles, 99 per cent of the bottled water we drink comes packed in plastic bottles…. big and small.

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After her address at the UN, I have become a huge fan of Greta Thunberg, and by now all of us, even those who have mocked her, are deeply aware of the serious questions that she raised on the environment, and the mess that our generation is leaving behind for her generation to deal with. If she has reason to be angry, scowl and growl, so do you, the young people who inhabit the Rotaract world.

At various Rotary events in India and internationally, senior leaders have talked about the perils of dumping millions of used plastic water bottles. In both the oceans and on land, marine life and animals have choked to death consuming the plastic waste we generate.

Reading an article titled “How safe is bottled water” in the latest issue of Time magazine, which says that about a third of Americans have switched to bottled water on grounds of “safety” and “quality”, I put an Internet search on the “perils of bottled water”. The screen flashed any number of scary headlines such as “Plastic water bottles are a threat to your health; 7 reasons to never drink bottled water ever again; 9 reasons why you shouldn’t drink bottled water…” I’m sure you get the general idea.

All the research you do on the subject boils down to the fact that apart from creating a horrendous amount of plastic waste, such water comes infused with harmful chemicals that seep from the plastic bottle into the water. And what is the guarantee that the water that you are buying has not been filled just with tap water… and that too untreated tap water?

At home we have long ago switched over to drinking water from glass bottles and keeping a few in the fridge too, despite the fact that they are a weighty substitute to plastic. A trick is to go for used wine bottles, which are much lighter in weight. If they are good enough to hold indoor bottled plants, they are good enough to hold drinking water too. But the bigger dilemma, in a water-starved city like Chennai, or anywhere else I suppose, is finding a substitute for water that comes packed in larger bottles with volumes of 5 or 10 or 30 litres. They are all made of plastic, even though the grade is better.

So who will bell the cat, and who will give leadership to this major issue that is staring our planet in the face? Call us hypocritical or hopeful; here too this generation will look towards the next one. While you figure this one out… I am planning to look for another nice paanai or matka made of terracotta. A new matka gives the water a fragrance of the earth that is far superior to the priciest of flavoured water!

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