Tag Archives: water

The Sting: Californians give water to billion dollar companies

Remember the movie The Sting?

Coolest hustle ever. Made the shysters look like heroes. As a kid I thought it was the best con ever. It holds nothing on the con the billion dollar businesses like Coca Cola have pulled off. They are making billions every year, taking water from one of the dry-est states in the US, and selling it to people with plenty of water, causing severe environmental impact while doing it.  Now that’s a con. Californians are the one getting stung, but know it, and continue to give our money over to the corporations who have more of it than we will ever see.

I know it happens. I see it. I just can’t get my mind around it.

Mother Jones helps in that regard:

Bottled-water drinkers, we have a problem: There’s a good chance that your water comes from California, a state experiencing the third-driest year on record.

The details of where and how bottling companies get their water are often quite murky, but generally speaking, bottled water falls into two categories. The first is “spring water,” or groundwater that’s collected, according to the EPA, “at the point where water flows naturally to the earth’s surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source.” About 55 percent of bottled water in the United States is spring water, including Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead.

The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies, including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap water—the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home—and bottle it up. (Weird, right?)

But regardless of whether companies bottle from springs or the tap, lots of them are using water in exactly the areas that need it most right now.

I still recall the first time I went to the movies with a pastor friend of mine and they charged us for water. He looked at them increduously and then looked at me and then back at them.

“You want to charge me for water? That’s free right over there in that faucet? … Is this cause I’m black!” he asked.

The idea that we’d pay money for free water was absurd not too long ago. But somehow they convinced us that its absurd to drink the free stuff. Free must equal bad, or unsafe. Perhaps that made sense when the names of bottled waters were exclusively Evian or Perrier because the rich tend to think paying more equals better. But Dasani? Dasani is tap water put in a chemical-laden plastic bottle made of fossil fuels and shipped with fossil fuels to places that routinely have better tasting water than the tap they poured in the first place.

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Dasani is Coca Cola by the way. Tap water. By a giant soda maker.

Now that’s absurd. Yet we play along paying billions every year … what’s worse is we KNOW it and STILL do it.

To organicanize your kitchen, I have become more convinced than ever that these are the absolutely vital first steps. I will go so far as to say it is nearly unconscionable NOT to take these steps.

1) Use tap water in the house. Never bring another bottled water in the house again. If you think it tastes bad, then buy a purifying in your home. A simply water pitcher made by Brita will save 300 plastic water bottles.

2) Spend $20 on a good, non-plastic water bottle and start taking it with you, just in case you get thirsty. We use to have water fountains everywhere. Cities got rid of them, like pay phones, because we didn’t use them. So have a spare. If you are one of those who likes water in your car at all times, fill a couple of bottles, put them in a carrier and bingo.

3) If you are like me and like sparkling water invest the $100 for a soda stream so you can make your own. Cut a lemon, blast your tap water in the little machine splash it with the lemon and you have great sparkling water.

That’s it. Remove the environmental blight of water bottles. Remove the cancer causing plastic bottles from your kitchen. Remove the con that tells us we are less than if we don’t buy water that until twenty years ago would have been absurd to buy.

My future grandkids and every other native Californian like me thank you.

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Dry Earth gets pleasant drink on Earth Day

It’s raining here on Earth Day, which I know probably blows for the event organizers. But our beloved diamond in the rough planet really needed a drink today in this little corner of it. As I went out backpacking for a couple of days last week, I trudged over trails that should have been snow covered and crossed spring-runs that ran nothing, absent of water at a time when they should be abundant.

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As the rain hits my skylight, it drums a little beat of praise, which makes me glad.

What a strange world we’ve created through global warming, a world where winter didn’t come to the West Coast and yet a prolonged brutal one tortured the East. We’ve seen the droughts and the wildfires and the destroyed crops and closed ski resorts and empty lakes and yet we still seem more concerned with denying we’ve played a part with our billions of gallons of gas and wasteful consumption. We deny it exists like RJ Reynolds on trial against millions of smokers. When we do admit global warming is actually a “thing,” and not something Al Gore invented to sell some books and force us all to buy new appliances, we say “it’s not our fault” — “we” meaning humanity, as if something else is out there to blame — and go right on defending our right to destroy this blue/green celestial miracle. We are the collective reincarnation of Nero, fiddling while Rome burns.

I am forever grateful for those visionaries of Earth Day. Way back when, it seemed gimmicky. It took nearly 20 years for me to pay attention to it. Now, it’s importance cannot be understated. If they hadn’t pushed so hard, my ignorance would surely remain.

This past week we’ve read news of astronomers scanning the vastness of God’s universe in faint hope of finding a similar little planetary miracle like Earth that could actually sustain life. They are 500,000 light years away and have just a couple of candidates. I’m not sure how far that really is, but I know it’s not on Google maps in my lifetime. I’m stuck with this Earth — this beautiful, incredible, artistic Mona Lisa of creation — and I’m grateful of those who force its care into our attention.

I’m going to dance a little in the rain today to remind myself that each day I make a choice: to care for what God has blessed us with or to destroy it by my thousands of little choices. This year, this Earth Day, join me in a desire to make a few better ones this year than we did the year before.

What type of choices? Well, there’s so many that are so easy. Perhaps we can make a great long list here in the comments. I’ll start.

  • Drink water from the local tap instead of from plastic bottles hauled across the country.
  • Bike or walk locally to limit short car trips.
  • Plant a garden and eat local vegetables.

And… the list could go on endlessly as small steps to honor the Earth, care for it and keep protecting it for generations to come.

Composting easy first step to organicanize my kitchen

Last week I owned up to my cancer phobia and decided to do something productive about it. This I call Organicanize. Step by step I am going through my kitchen and removing items that are harmful. I will pay as close attention to the things I used to cook and store my food as I do to the food itself.

The rules for this pursuit are simple:

1) It has to pan out. I’m not looking for sensationalized, preaching-to-the-choir hype, over-generalizations or political spin. I’m also not going to wade through miles of research. The idea is as a reasonably intelligent person wanting to make reasonably intelligent choices, I should be able to figure stuff out.

2) It has to be affordable. Sure I can spend $30 for a single spatula compared to the three-for-a-buck package in the Dollar Store. But it’s not feasible for most people. What’s the best option?

3) It has to have some mileage. I’m not fad-chasing. Anyone who has read my emails about Quinoa can attest I’m not a fan of the latest “thing” that social media dredges up. I want some staying power.

With those three rules in mind, let’s get started. My quest begins under my sink, the foulest part of my mostly immaculate kitchen. I hate under the sinks. Monsters lurk there I am sure. Ours is especially frightful because it has a nasty old water filter that doesn’t work and looks, well, nasty. More on both water and the filter later. To the right of that sits the trash.

I don’t much like trash. It seems oddly out-of-place in a room with such delightful fragrances and tastes. I recently priced a monster deluxe trash can that looks spiffy, could sit out on the floor, open with a stomp of my foot and seal down tight as my neglected bill clip. But it never rose to the top of the “needed” expense list so we still have one of those cheapy open-air plastic things that we never clean very well. We hide it under the sink.

Now I don’t really know what germs lurk down there and what cancerous boogiemen are down there. I’d rather not, frankly. I’m working up to it. For now, I decided to go in a more positive direction. I decided to compost.

I’ve always wanted to compost. I never, ever have for one very practical reason. I’m never in one place long enough for trash to turn to compost. I have planted three gardens in the last seven years and never once made it to late summer in the same place to harvest them. So composting just seemed out there like the stars… a light I see and think fondly of, but had no plans to actually embrace.

Until now.

As it turns out, there is delightfully little controversy about composting. It’s great. Nobody really argues over its merits or health risks or impact. The merits are so numerous we will save that for last. The health risks are fairly straight forward: Rats. They love certain compost piles and they aren’t a welcome visitor to most homes, certainly not one like ours with The Bride’s rampant spider phobia. God forbid what an actual encounter with a rat would do to her.

Rats are attracted to proteins, like fish bones or meat scraps. But neither are very helpful to your compost, according to a wide swath of resources I checked out. They take longer to break down, they smell and they attract rats, which seems to suggest its best not to compost these items. If you insist, then an enclosed compost pile is in order.

I’m sticking to the basics of composting science: Nitrogen + carbon + water = compost.

Nitrogen is the live “green” stuff: grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds. Carbon is the dead “brown stuff: leaves, twigs, shredded cardboard, pine needles (which my ground is covered in!) newspaper. The water is self-explanatory, but rain rather than hose when possible just makes plain good sense. Egg shells are relatively neutral, so I’m putting them in. I just smash them up before I toss them in the compost bin.

For a good list of items, check out EarthEasy, which has a nice chart. Avoid Organic Gardening. Frankly, I just removed them from my bookmarks. I didn’t find their information near as useful and I detest needing a virtual machete to hack through pop-up ads and subscription requests. Hey, I have a couple of websites and love to make money off them. But some of these sites are just plain insane and Organic Gardening has tipped into that realm for me.

As for the trash situation under my sink, I realized that I couldn’t just let green composting stuff pile up any which way, so I went out and bought a small, very economical trash can that looks pretty, opens up with my foot and seals pretty tight. I bought 100 percent biodegradable bags to put into the small bin and I now love using it.

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The under the sink trash is much cleaner and far less in use. I am motivated to finish cleaning under there and ridding it of any foul, noxious or potentially cancerous materials.

My neighbor and I garden together. They have the room and the sun and I have the human power. Plus, it helps I don’t mind weeding. So I’m now working to clean up their neglected compost pile, which once turned their garden into the most beautiful, healthy soil I’ve ever plunged my hands into. I also got a smaller bin for me, that I can easily compost my material in.

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I love my used compost bin! Together we will have plenty of healthy soil for our collective garden, herbs and flower projects this year.

So let’s touch on those health benefits, briefly, because I want to spend one of the blogs on the actual evidence for healthy bacteria and probiotics in our stomachs that help fight free radicals and cancerous cells. I could go on and on but I won’t. For now I’ll explain the benefits thusly: The healthier soil I have, the more I’ll grow. The more I grow, the more I will can these items for winter. The less I buy in winter, the less exposure to industrialized produce treated with God only knows what chemicals.

Compost is, therefore, a vital first step of organicanization.

Perfect right? So easy. I felt damn proud of my effort. I looked around the kitchen and thought, “soon… very soon…” it would all look just as clean and healthy as my trash. Then I noticed the label on my little trash compost can. It looked unsightly. I peeled it off carefully. Then I noticed another smaller label, a clear one, I hadn’t noticed in the store. I read it: “The state of California has found that chemicals used in making this have been known to cause cancer.”

FML, as my kids would text. FML, indeed. Back to the drawing board. This isn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

FOR SALE: PRETTY LITTLE TRASH CAN. BARELY USED.

Argh.

NOTE: For a list of 30 items you should not compost, check out this link to Mother Nature Network.