Why is there no mention of soft drinks, the manufacture and disposal of which poses the same or even greater environmental risks as bottled water, and which, unlike bottled water, is genuinely unhealthy to the human body?
Also, shouldn’t the campaign be FOR water coolers to be installed all throughout the island and for people to bring their own reusable containers?
Written by Ng E-Jay
15 July 2009
It was reported in the Straits Times article “Bottled water: People should be told the facts” that the Australian town of Bundanoon, south of Sydney, voted to ban bottled water last Wednesday, and that two individuals here are keen on campaigning for a similar move in Singapore. I was nothing short of flabbergasted when I read this.
Ms Leong Ching, a PhD student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and Professor Tommy Koh, chairman of the Governing Council of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum, are reportedly planning to lobby all ministries, statutory boards, Temasek-linked companies, and educational institutions to consider stopping the practice of serving bottled water, on the basis that bottled water wastes resources and harms the environment.
Ms Leong, a former journalist, said: “I can understand why they drink bottled water in countries where they have no choice. But it is senseless when the (tap) water is fit for drinking (as is the case for Singapore).”
First off the bat, I have absolutely no objections to Government departments, statutory boards, and dining establishments such as restaurants providing only tap water as opposed to bottled water.
But if the campaign is also targetted at bottled water sold to the general public, it is nothing short of sheer idiocy.
Bottled water is an extremely hygenic, convenient and healthy means of hydrating the body when one is in public and is in need of a thirst quencher.
If bottled water is banned, wouldn’t that mean that people will instead have to opt for beverages like soft drinks, which are unhealthy as they tend to contain loads of sugar and other preservatives?
I personally rely heavily on bottled water while not at home, as a source of hydration throughout the day and after exercise. Perhaps Ms Leong Ching and Professor Tommy Koh would rather that I spend even more money loading up on expensive soft drinks or caffeinated beverages instead.
Without bottled water, if there is no water cooler nearby, I would have to go to the toilet to drink from the tap. Given the overall unhygienic state of public toilets in Singapore, I find that notion repulsive. Imagine calling ourselves a first world nation and then having to drink from a public toilet!
Concerns over the environmental impact of bottled water are most probably misplaced as well. The greatest threat to the environment comes from carbon and toxic emissions from heavy industries. It is true that non-biodegradable plastics such as those used in bottled water also hurt the environment, but if so, shouldn’t the emphasis be on soft drinks instead, as soft drinks are genuinely unhealthy to the human body and use both metals and plastics for containers?
Rather than campaign to ban bottled water, Ms Leong Ching and Professor Tommy Koh should instead be campaigning for water coolers to be installed throughout the island and for people to bring their own reusable containers.
I simply do not understand why a campaign has to be directed against something so innocent as bottled water, when there are far greater environmental threats, when there are far unhealthier products in the marketplace, and when bottled water is of such convenience to people on the move.
I also take offence at the notion of individuals going around trying to ban something just because they dislike it. It infringes upon the right of others to make informed choices and insensitively disregards the fact that those choices may be an important part of the lifestyles of others.
As reported in the Straits Times, the bottled water industry is extremely lucrative. Perhaps some soft drink manufacturers are feeling the heat as a result of people like myelf opting to drink bottled water as opposed to their sugar-laden concoctions.
Access to clean, healthy bottled water is to me a basic right. If Ms Leong Ching and Professor Tommy Koh insist on encroaching on my right to enjoy this magnificent product, I will oppose them come hell or high water.