Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bottled Vs. Tap -Canada Day Musings on Water

       Pretty much every environmentalist from David Suzuki to the every day green witch has put together some thoughts on drinking bottled vs. tap water and I figured that it was about time I put in my two cents. As a Canadian I am celebrating Canada Day today (more on Canadian inventions here), which means that I am also celebrating the fact that I live in the country that holds 20% of the world's freshwater.

       While its wonderful and all that I live in the country which owns the greatest abundance of freshwater, what you might not know is that out of that 20% only 7% is renewable. But what does renewable even mean? The word is so overused these days with companies trying to spew out "green" gimmicks that something which should be simple has become hopelessly convoluted. Well in this sense, renewable means the water that as humans we can access, drink, purify and re-use. Why is only 7/20% of Canada's water considered renewable? Well, we aren't called the Great White North for nothing! The majority of our drinkable water is trapped in glaciers, and bad things happen when glaciers are melted. Some of our water is also located very deep underground in aquifers while the rest is in lakes, and the fish need their water too.

        So, really Canadians don't have as much water as they think they do. 7% is according to Environment Canada (EC) more than enough to accommodate the 30 million people who live here, however EC also notes that as the majority of said 7% drains northward it is largely inaccessible to 85% of our population. Now don't panic, Canada isn't going to run out of its water supply today or tomorrow so everybody just take a breath. But realistically we are stressing our water supply.

       Unfortunately I'm drinking out of a water bottle while I write this. Gasp, I know after all that I am drinking out of a plastic water bottle. Why am I saying this? Because I'm not perfect, we can all point fingers and claim to always use reusable water bottles but the truth is each and everyone of us has slipped. Personally I'm drinking out of a plastic water bottle because where I live the tap water looks more like milk when its poured into a glass. The water has been tested here and its aok but really drinking water that looks like milk and tastes well like pipes, not so much fun.

      So yah I'm drinking out of a plastic bottle before you attack pause just a moment and consider this, I was able to buy water. We sell each other water. Why? Well yes there is some consumer demand for it, but who really profits from it? The companies and the government (excerpt taken from the Canadian Revenue Agency):

"42. Therefore, plain bottled water sold in a single serving size bottle (i.e., less than 600 mL) is taxable. When plain bottled water is sold in manufacturers' packages of two or more single serving bottles, or in a bottle that exceeds a single serving, it is zero‑rated."

Think about it, with the exception of those who live in an area where the water is not drinkable when are you often driven to buy water? When, you're at an amusement park, movie theatre, food court i.e. when you buy it in a single serving. And who profits, well the government.

      If the money went to an environmental company whose mission was to regulate the Canadian water supply so that it didn't come out of the tap looking like milk then yah I could see the use of taxing water. But it doesn't. Instead it goes to fill the government's coffers. So don't attack the person who bought the plastic water bottle, sure ask them to recycle it politely but just remember maybe the reason they're not drinking water from the tap is because tax dollars haven't upgraded their water supply and maybe just maybe it looks like milk when it comes out of the tap.
More Info on Canadian Water:
Enviro Canada

Info on Taxable Groceries in Canada:
Canada Revenue Agency

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