According to the Washington Post, Barack Obama has a serious problem: he is too perfect. Thus, there is much press attention searching for Obama’s character flaws, ever more diligently focusing on Obama’s cigarette usage rather than asking probing questions at press conferences on irrelevancies like energy policy. Considering the fact that the last President was an alcoholic, it seems reasonble to wonder why there is all of this attention on a few cigarettes and not a word on Obama’s drinking problem. A problem, by the way, that he shares with 100s of millions (if not billions around the world) and which is documented as helping wreck havoc on global society.
Barack loves water in a plastic bottle.
Between 2002 and 2005 Americans increased their use of personal sized bottled water 13 billion bottles to nearly 28 billion bottles, making our share of the world consumption 17%. And yet there are few places in the US where the tap water is not potable - we do not have the problem - so endemic in much of the world (Mexico City, anyone?) - of water that might get you sick. And in fact much of the bottled water we buy IS tap water. Water, like many non-carbonated drinks, is packaged largely in bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), of which Jackson notes
- it is made from petroleum [and it takes a LOT of petroleum to move it around — think 1/3rd of bottle as filled with gasoline and you’re about right)
- only 14.5% of the bottles for non-carbonated drinks are recycled
- this puts 2 million tons into our landfills
- the bottles do not degrade for hundreds of years
Michelle Obama is leading the way, from the bully pulpit of the White House lawn, on the value of fresh (organic) gardens grown in our own soil. President Obama can easily take a step forward by moving beyond plastic bottles to tap — whether served in a glass or in a reusable (steel? metal?) bottle. Michelle’s garden won’t make a dent in our nation’s obesity or global warming problems, but the millions now gardening in part because they watch her as a role model can. President Obama drinking from a glass of water won’t make a dent in solving our oil addiction and helping prepare us for Peak Oil, but the millions who might choose to save some money by drinking (filtered) tap water might make a dent.
Symbols matter as part of leadership. That casual reaching out for a plastic water bottle is not leadership in the right direction.
It is time for President Obama to end his drinking problem, to take the leap and leave those plastic bottles behind.
Okay, and by the way, the water in water bottles is not (NOT) healthier for you than tap water in most parts of the United States and even around the globe and is far (FAR) more expensive, not just for society, for you.
Other discussions to look at:
- Asinus Asinum Fricat, The Insanity of Bottled Water and A Tale of Greed, Water, Blood & Oil
- A Siegel, “Take your canvas bags …” viral videoing to change the world
Some resources to consider:
- Fake Plastic Fish
- Think Outside the Bottle
- NRDC, Bottle Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype
- Bottled Water Blues
- Pacific Institute, Bottled Water
- All About Water, The effects of Bottled Water on the Environment
- Scientific American, Plastic Not-So-Fantastic: How the Versatile Material Harms the Environment and Human Health
While Penn and Teller are global warming deniers, sometimes that can make a point: