Blog Pile

Bottled No More

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It’s been maybe two years since I bought a package of bottled water form the supermarket, but I’m always grabbing one at convenience stores while on the road. Living in the dry state of Arizona (dry as in lack of moisture) you learn to not go far without water in reach. I’ve kept a fleet in my fridge, using them for runs, and yes, I refill them from my tap. Someone will respond and inform me that this is a cancer risk (Snopes is mixed). If you look around all the objects in any room in your house, you could probably find some study somewhere that anything is linked to cancer.

But that’s straying from the point.

A blog post from Heather turned me on to the Story of Bottled Water. Wow, I may be the only one on my twitter list who forgot to watch Anne Leonard’s Story of Stuff, so this was my first taste of her style:

We’ve been duped! The craze for bottled water was done by the sugar candy soda drink makers seeking new revenue, so they manufactured a demand by a message of “tap water is bad”. The amount of money that goes into bottling what is often tap water, transport, generating plastic, is just obscene. And that whole bit where Anne talks of tracking the recycling of plastic to shipping by boat to be dumped in India… well, makes me feel like I am wearing the shirt that says “SUCKER”.

Like thinking because of a name or pictures of mountains that the water is really precious stuff from polynesian islands- instead you are paying 100x the real cost? Man, are we sheep or what?

Plus the video style is brilliant!

So what can you do? I am kicking the habit.

My tap water, from local wells, is damned good mountain water.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I ordered a set of Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottles to use now on for reusable containers. I’m keeping one or two in the truck, and using the smaller ones for my running (if I ever get back to that).

As far as the plastic ones I have, they are going into the storage under the house until I can convince some of my friends in Phoenix to let me bring them down and put in their recycling (we have none up in my small town). I am hoping these ones really are recycled!

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

There it is, I am kicking the habit.

Now fill me on on all the contrary facts.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I saw the bottled water video a little while back, and what the narrative reminded me of was the very thing that’s happening more generally in our culture. We are everywhere being sold a bill of goods, a way of framing how we need to “compete with the Chinese” which is the new mantra for education, and pushes us to extended the school year, re-entrench in industrial model education, and further scare us all into repeating the same, uninspired routine of learning. It’s all a means to drive a market, and the idea of water as a market is such a brilliant example because it shows you both how easy it is to sell a scared population anything, and what more, it also shows you how quickly it can be done. I mean we lived through it, in the 80s bottled water as marginal at best, but for the next twenty years, corporations were making billions selling us our own tap water—how crazy is that?

    What I wonder is how deep we are in this consciousness cloud for education right now? I mean what does it mean that there are extreme makeover TV shows for schools right now? Crazy.

    A simple, elemental resource like water is not that different from education in mind mind, and I think the have a very similar cultural history over the past twenty or thirty years. There is much there.

    1. Really. If we are duped that easily by the bottled water scam, what hopes does our society have to unravel the school mire?

      I’m drawn to some of the gems left by Alan Kay elsewhere around this dog house– I think he is saying we are getting lost in the reflection of shiny objects…

      Also that the Greek root of “narcosis” and “narcissus” is the same, and that the mirror effect numbs.

      One way to look at what we were doing is that we were trying to make new kinds of books, and telescopes and microscopes, etc., to advance “seeing and thinking”, but if you give a microscope to a monkey they only will hold it up to admire their reflection in the shiny brass barrel.

      And I think this is what happened. Education never got on the bus and the “augmentation of human intellect” (which is right there) got completely overwhelmed by the mirror effect and people demanding routes for identity and participation regardless of content.

      Now who are the monekys?

      1. Well,

        It sounds smart, but I can’t agree entirely with Kay’s with that sentiment. I don’t necessarily buy that we are all monkeys, and while I sympathize with his idea that we have been caught up in a sense of self sold to us through an idea of the future which has been compromised, I think it is our responsibility to challenge that and struggle within it. To wax poetic on how it is all gone is easy, and I give way in to it every so often. But in the end, I’d rather think that our moments of looking in the mirror might actually lead to some sense of recognition, understand, and emancipation from the vision of selling us our perfectly goos water.

        No question Alan kay is a brilliant individual who has effected change, and by the brilliant comment thread on your previous post, still effecting change. And while I want to throw it in and shake my head in agreement when it comes to education, I can’t and won’t —why is it all of a sudden too late? Why is everything over? We have a world of options before us if we would only step out and begin to realize them. Why can;t we realize our moment rather than constantly depending on one that is gone.

        1. I did not mean to apply we were all monkeys, but there sure are a lot of monkeys out there and in charge. I hold on to the same strand of hope you do.

          I think Kay’s lament is we’ve lost a lot of that drive to learn to create and craft as we (the collective) grow more comfortably passive consuming content (his bit about a piano not being music and his rants against guitar here).

          The stuff you are doing, the storytelling with the UMW students, thats all stuff to turn the tide. We need more, much much more. I go back to that thing in Sir Ken’s recent speech about art being about raising the active sense of the aesthetic, and what school has done largely is the opposite, it is an anesthetic, putting kids under.

          yes, these are broad brush stroked, let’s keep our hands on the electric paddles.

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