Saturday, March 21, 2009

Consider, if you will...

... the following items. I write not to convict, demean, or preach, but to inform.

1) Coca-Cola. Oh Coca-Cola. How I once loved you. But sadly, times have changed. Or rather, times haven't changed (as your problems are old news), but I have learned. Do you know how hard you are to avoid? And now you've purchased Glacieau, too? Is nothing safe? Your CEOs have stated their opinions and made their excuses. But here I sit. Granted, I may be behind the times. Anti-Coca-Cola movements (particularly Killer Coke) stopped being big news several years ago, but what has been done? Quite a few of the campuses that boycotted you because of your connections to anti-union violence and even murders, have 'renegotiated' their contracts and you're back in our schools again. I am by no means perfect. Sometimes Coke is all that is in the vending machine (a lame excuse), or I forget and pick up a Dasani or a Vitamin Water. You have released your 'Human Rights Statment' and your 'Supplier Guiding Principles Program'. They look impressive at first glance, but one can't help but notice the loopholes. We have seen this before. Gap has presented similar information about their vendor/supplier guidelines, and we've seen the state of their workshops. I would also like thank AAA (American Anthropological Association) for continuing to boycott Coca Cola.

2) Bottled Water. Yes, bottled water. "Americans are drinking bottled water in record numbers--a whopping 5 billion gallons in 2001, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), an industry trade group" (FDA 2002). Get this: tap water is more stringently regulated than tap water. Really. Where tap water has an average lead limit of 15 ppb, bottled water is around 5 ppb (FDA 2002). A study conducted by the NRDC, found that "bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety" and "bottled water rules allow for some contamination by E. coli or fecal coliform (which indicate possible contamination with fecal matter), contrary to tap water rules, which prohibit any confirmed contamination with these bacteria" (NRDC 1999). As you can probably tell, that last study is a wee bit old. That's why I went to the FDA to look up more recent information (which is still slightly off). In a recent Los Angeles Times article, a NRDC official stated that "bottled water isn't any safer or purer than what comes out of the tap". At this point, I'm incredibly glad that I am too stingy to buy bottled water. This doesn't even touch on the question of where all those plastic bottles go after they're thrown out either... So, recent tips I found on make tap water more palatable for the picky drinker:

a) Buy a Brita filter or something similar (that one was relatively straightforward)
b) If you buy bottled water because of the lack of chlorine-taste, just have a jug/pitcher of water in the fridge. Supposedly, the chlorine taste dissipates after eight hours in the refrigerator
c) Suck it up and fill up (okay that was my own... I couldn't resist!)
d) If you can't stand the idea of 'filling up' at public water fountains, just make sure you refill before leaving the house.
e) And for goodness sake don't throw out the bottles!


I leave you with two verses from one of my new favorite songs. Maddy Prior, incredible British folk singer (and of Steeleye Span and Silly Sisters fame), recorded this phenomenal a capella song for her album, Flesh and Blood. Beautiful.

Honest Work (by Maddy Prior)

The prophets of a brave new world
Captains of industry
Have visions grand and great designs
But none have room for me
They see a world where everyone
Is rich and smart and young
But if I live to see such things
Too late for me they come

I know I'm not the only one
To fall beneath the wheel
Such company can not assuage
The loneliness I feel
So many are resigned to be
Society's debris
But I will be remembered for
The life life took from me
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