Recently I have been active on Twitter. When I say active, I mean I actually posted something on it myself, rather than the WordPress blog automatically posting a link for me when I publish something new on my blog, like with this post.
Twitter, like the internet in general, is hardly the sort of place that a general gripe or groan about anything is going to be noticed by anyone much, being as your particular gripe or groan is likely to be shared by many others and expressed with various levels of intelligent and unintelligible language or factual rigour in the same sort of place as you are using for yours. Even that is going to be just one of the myriad of gripes and groans that will already be there anyway. But it can make you feel a little better if you have your very own.
I use Twitter mainly to follow news, sport and wildlife interests and rarely post anything but, in its efforts to make some money out of the service and therefore justify its existence to its
speculating investors hoping to get rich sometime shareholders, it insists on providing me with some ‘sponsored tweets’ that it thinks are relevant to me somehow.
That, as it has turned out, is what the internet has grown into. People trying to sell stuff and people moaning about stuff to other people they don’t really know. Some of us blog as well, so this makes an opportunity for moaning on an epic scale of much more than 140 characters, although the intelligence and factual grasp of this one may be equally tenuous.
As you will know if you have read much of my blog before, on almost every Sunday morning I am down at the local beach with the rest of the dedicated Crackington Crew volunteers, cleaning it up from the waves of plastic waste brought in from the oceans beyond. Sometimes I clean a beach on my own during the week as well, while I am walking my dog. The last one I did I managed to collect 10 kilos of assorted fishing industry waste, broken and lost at sea diving, surfing and general beach going accoutrements and lots of discarded plastic food packaging.
We always clean up many empty drinking water bottles.
So companies turning up uninvited in my feed page advertising bottled water via sponsored tweets on Twitter are going to give me a bit of a target for a response if I’m feeling cranky enough.
Their marketing pattern is that somehow their water is natural, (what else is water?) and is good for you (OM fucking G! You mean drinking water keeps you alive? Wow! Who knew?) and you should buy more of their particular one (Unique Selling Point: it’s not some other water and definitely not the sort that a rich country could provide to everyone in a building – perhaps sometimes even outdoors – with a tap)
You will notice that on Twitter, I wear a hat.
Every bottle of water sold in the UK now uses packaging that is theoretically completely recyclable. The companies involved here will use that as their response to questions about the ethics of selling you water (the cheap thing), in a plastic bottle (the expensive thing by comparison) that shouldn’t really be reused (it’s a health thing, funny really…) unless it specifically says so on the bottle (it normally doesn’t, because that would encourage you to refill it from the tap which would be a TERRIBLE idea).
The standard industry reply will be along the lines of ‘We take our environment responsibilities seriously…’ (not seriously enough to consider not selling the water that falls for free from the sky, packaging it in bottles, packaging loads of them on plastic shrink-wrapped pallets, keeping it in a vast warehouse to load onto lorries that chug out diesel fumes to get to a supermarket distribution centre where it is kept in a vast warehouse until it is loaded onto another diesel fuelled lorry to be delivered to a supermarket that you’ll probably drive your car to go to buy your plastic packed groceries, buy the water, take it to the beach, drink it and in about 41% of cases not dispose of it responsibly, but nearly as seriously as that) ‘…and can reassure you that we use PET recyclable plastic for all our bottles.’ (Apparently it takes about 3 litres of water to manufacture a PET one litre bottle. This may make irony meters twitch a bit.)
Ah, here it comes.
To be fair, I wasn’t expecting that. Our seas are much too full of Thrash apparently, either the heavy metal music or people desperately trying to swim, and there’s an Alliance to put an end to it.
Seriously though, the industry attitude is ‘Look, we make all the money in selling this water to you gullible people, and we use recyclable packaging for it so the rest of it is up to someone else to do something about. We are going to overlook the fact a problem wouldn’t even exist if we weren’t making the zillions of bottles and making money by selling them to you. Oh, and the unique water in them. Ahem.’
“Recycling rates for plastic bottles in Britain stand at 59%, compared with more than 90% in countries that operate deposit return schemes, such as Germany, Norway and Sweden.”
Next is the trying ever-so-hard-to-appear-ethical Co-Op supermarket chain.
Yep, they will happily try to end water poverty in the world by donating a massive 4 US cents (which at post-Brexit referendum exchange rates is now probably about £1.83) for each of their bottles of water sold. Let’s get our collective heads around that one. A one litre bottle of water bought by you (containing one litre of water and taking another three to make) will make sure that there’s more good water for people in the world to have. In this scenario, you, the consumer of that four litres of water, are meant to be happy that you are the one doing some good in the world by helping it to save and provide water in other parts of it. Note: For this scheme to work really well, buy more water in bottles. Theirs.
I might have responded to that too.
At least they didn’t go with the stock recyclable reply.
At the end of that then, it is still down to you to recycle the bottle properly, ie; put it in the correct place for a recycling collection truck to collect it, paid for from your taxes, take it to a recycling centre, probably still in part paid for from your taxes, and to do the right thing with it. Note, if you don’t put it in the correct place, it’ll go in landfill and last a hell of a lot longer. Or just throw it in the ocean and I’ll pick it up for you in my own time eventually and I’ll put it in the recycling for you.
Alternatively, you could just drink a litre of tap water from a washable glass (not all at once, that would be uncomfortable) or fill a proper reusable water canister (I use my bike water bottles) before you head out for the day and send the same charity half of what you would have paid for a bottle of water from Co-Op.
Although, because the charity Co-Op are helping with their generosity with your money, while relying on you to do the right thing now they’ve made their profit, is called ‘One Foundation’ who were formerly called ”Shenzen One Foundation Charity Fund’ and according to the Wikipedia entry are ‘a Chinese non-Governmental organisation’ – which I think is the dictionary definition of ‘an oxymoron’ – you may want to think about that bit.
Now you can see why couldn’t fit all this on Twitter.
I did mention to both companies that a deposit scheme would surely be a good idea, to encourage proper recycling.
That, apparently, is a great way to make them not interact with you any more and not say anything else.
Buxton did have a reply to the deposit question.
Ah. What are the cons then?
No replies since that one.
Never mind, I’ve made a few points, got some stuff off my chest and hopefully amused some of you for a few minutes.
By the way, did I mention it?
Please don’t buy water in single-use plastic bottles. It’s not healthy.
Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments.
If you really want to know more about PET plastic, here is a Wikipedia link. If your eyes glaze over and brain turns off every time a word gets in the least bit technical, long or hyphenated (or all three), don’t click it unless that is a state you actually like to get in to.