Category Archives: Events

Winston the Water Fountain

Today I thought we could have a little fun with water. The man in the video, Winston, appears to be putting on a show for tourists. He makes a point of showing he has nothing up his sleeve (well to be exact, his shirt) and proceeds to display a pretty amazing capacity to dispense water like a fountain. I have not been able to figure out what trick he could be using and think his performance is 100% authentic. So, real or fake, what do you think? I realize that the quality isn’t the best and that makes this challenge a little harder, but I would love to know what you think?

A (Perfect?) Gift for Dad

Number-1-dad

This weekend I will take a day off from everything else to spend some time with my dad. We will sit down and have a meal together, talk about sports, the weather and how his business is doing. I will remember being a little kid and how my dad always looked so tall (I still think of him as tall, even though I have known grown up to be taller than my dad). This Sunday I will enjoy time well spent with my father, but…before I can even think that far ahead I have to figure out what in the world to get for him!

Shopping for my dad is never easy and my whole family has to struggle to find something that he wants that he didn’t already buy for himself. This year I got lucky. Earlier this year the neighborhood well at my parent’s house turned the water brown. To be fair, their water is not all that great to begin with, but brown is never a color you want to see coming out of your tap. The two filters that my dad has set up for the refrigerator and kitchen sink kept their drinking water clean, but the increased sediments in the water eventually clogged the filters. So I got my dad some replacement filters for Father’s Day!

Before you judge my dad’s gift think of it this way, for the same cost as dinner and a movie I gave him 6 months of clean drinking water. I know it may not be the most exciting gift, but I know it is one he will use and appreciate every time he gets a glass of water. Just in case you think your dad could use a filter or two this Father’s Day (or if you are a Dad and are shopping for filters) be sure to check out our special Facebook offer for 15% off your order this Father’s Day Weekend.

Sea turtles mistake plastic for jellyfish

Sea turtle

I already knew that fish were eating plastic from watching the documentary film Tapped, but I was not really prepared to see this article from Mother Nature Network, or @MotherNatureNetwork on twitter. A green sea turtle, rescued in 2009, was found to have eaten a large amount of plastic. The team of marine biologists was able to extract the largest piece, but the poor turtle still excreted plastic for a month. Marine biologists believe that sea turtles are eating the plastic waste that finds its way into the ocean because it looks like a jellyfish. Since sea turtles love to eat the jellyfish they chomp down on the plastic bag look-a-likes as well.

Reducing the amount of plastic that we use and dispose of every day can make a difference. Everyone has a part to play in helping keep plastic out of the ocean.

It does not have to be a huge life altering decision, because every little bit helps. Try taking a re-usable cloth bag to the store to get groceries instead of using plastic bags. Take a re-usable water bottle with you to work instead of a single use PET plastic bottle. Remember that re-using is better than recycling and if you can’t avoid disposable goods make sure to recycle whenever you can. Cheap plastic water bottles and plastic grocery bags are convenient, but they cause damage to the environment. Challenge yourself to try just one way to reduce plastic waste. I chose to stop buying bottled water and instead keep a bottle of filtered water in the fridge. I haven’t bought bottled water at all in several months. It’s a small change, but it starts with you and me making the right decisions. Together we can make a big difference.

Small changes make a big difference

Earth day

Happy Earth Day 2011! Every day should be Earth Day when you think about how important this planet is to our survival (I know, duh!), but it is really easy to take things for granted. Our beloved Planet Earth provides us with the resources we need to live, thrive and pursue happiness, but we do not always do our best to reciprocate it.

I was not sure what to write about for Earth Day, though there are certainly plenty of ways to help out, until last night. I got an extra boost this morning when I checked Twitter and saw the following tweet from @OpheliaRising “Special #EarthDay #FF @fridgefilters @PlasticfreeBeth. Small changes make a big difference!”. That was when it really hit me, small changes do make a really big difference.

I was speaking with a friend last night who is taking a class in environmental sociology and has to write a 15 page paper about a current environmental issue. I was eager to help and suggested she discuss plastic pollution and bottled water. I was ready to unload all the information I have gathered on the subject, but was stopped short by her response. She told me that it was not finding a topic that was hard, but that she did not really care. “I am not an environmentalist” she told me, “the problem is too big and I am not going to make a difference”.

I wish I could tell you that I pulled out my best arguments and convinced her that she should care and explained how she could make a difference, but I only had time to reference a book I read as a small child entitled “If Everybody Did” by Jo Ann Stover. It’s a book I read a long time ago when I was a kid and the lesson the book attempts to teach is that while one person doing something does not have a great effect, if everybody did the same thing it causes a much larger reaction.

No one expects you to change the world singlehandedly. Many of the problems we face today are truly collective action problems, but what if everybody made the decision to do just one thing to help the planet. What if we all took one simple step towards preserving the Earth? It can be a big thing, or it can be a little thing. That is exactly what earthday.org is doing with their billion acts of green campaign. If you go to http://act.earthday.org/ you can see there are 102,013,078 (and counting) pledges from people just like you and me to help make a difference. That’s over one hundred million people! Imagine if everybody did? We can all make a difference, with small changes, because small changes make a big difference.

A little history lesson

Drought on a shoreline

How much time do you spend each day thinking about where water comes from and where it goes? Probably not very much and I have to admit I often take it for granted too. Since I watched the Tapped documentary though I have had a bug in my brain about the drought of 2007. I grew up in Dekalb county, but had moved to Raleigh by 2007. A few years ago local communities were running dangerously low on water and still people were dragging their feet when it came to conservation. Back in Atlanta folks were hit pretty hard by the drought as well.

Nestle’s new Pure Life brand is being bottled from municipal sources meaning yet another high volume seller has joined Dasani and Aquafina re-bottling public water. Approximately 40% of bottled water is taken from municipal sources and with Nestle moving their Pure Life brand in that direction this percentage is likely to go up. This bothers me for a couple of reasons, public water systems are supported with our taxpayer dollars. This means that we are subsidizing the commercialization of our own water and then being charged hundreds of times more for that same water. So when you buy a bottle of Dasani, Aquafina, or Pure Life water you are essentially buying water that you already pay taxes on to get from your tap.

Which brings me to Atlanta back in 2007 when the shores of Lake Allatoona and the Chattahoochee River were dwindling from the drought. Meanwhile, as Thomas Wheatley pointed out, Coke was taking public water to bottle for their Dasani brand.

The Coca Cola company was doing what made the most sense and running business as usual to meet public demand. The irony is that had the city of Atlanta run out of water people would have been drinking the same water that used to flow from their taps, but they would have been paying as much as 2000 times more for it. Don’t you think it is time we stopped fueling the bottled water industry? Take control of your water and give up the bottle. You can filter your own tap water with a home filter and fill re-usable containers instead of buying bottled water. I have a built in filter in the fridge so I get most of my drinking water from there. How do you filter your water? I look forward to seeing your comments so we can share some ideas about how we can all make smarter decisions about our drinking water.

UC Berkeley vote may do away with bottled water sales on campus

Bottled water stash

As a part of this year’s ASUC voting at UC Berkeley students are asked to lend their support for Bill 94 to help UC Berkeley reach its waste reduction goals. The vote, which lasts from April 5th-7th, will determine the fate of bottled water sales on campus. Thanks to @MyWaterOurWater for sharing the Daily Clog post about the vote.

I wanted to find out more about the ASUC voting so I looked up the 2011 UC Berkeley voters guide to see what Bill 94 was all about and have included it below in it’s entirety.

Bill 94 The End the Sale of Bottled Water Initiative

“UC Berkeley currently has a goal to reach 75% waste diversion by 2012 and zero-waste by 2020. Barring emergency situations, do you support the respectful request for

(1) the renogotiation of any existing campus contracts to phase out the purchase, sale, and distribution of bottled water
(2) for increased campus access to public water including hydration stations and better maintenance of drinking fountains, in order to aid the realization of the aforementioned waste-reduction goals?”

Given what we know about plastic pollution and the negative effect that bottled water has on the environment, especially in the ocean, it is great to see more students get involved with our future. Bottled water is not sustainable, especially when you consider that only 10% of singe-use water bottles will be recycled. The second point in Bill 94 promotes better maintenance and more availability of hydration stations on campus so students don’t have to buy bottled water and can carry re-usable canteens instead. This is the perfect solution. Nobody likes to pay the high premium on bottled water so give them a viable alternative.

Your home has a hydration station already, your refrigerator. Your fridge is probably where you go when you are thirsty so be sure to keep it stocked with plenty of water, just not the bottled kind please. Use a water pitcher or dispenser to fill a re-usable bottle or glass and drink responsibly. If you have a newer refrigerator it may already have a water filter built-in. You can put Bill 94 to use in your home and help reduce your waste too.

Image Source: Klearchos Kapoutsis under Creative Commons

The Incident at Tower 37

Incident at tower 37

A lot has been happening this week as we celebrate World Water Day 2011. Over at TakePart.com they featured this exclusive video and interview with Chris Perry, the director of Wall-E about his new animated short “The Incident at Tower 37″. The entire video is only about 10 minutes long and presents the story of a community threatened by the loss of their water supply. In the short film a large corporation is taking the water and leaving the community without enough water to support their own livelihood.

Perry is trying to raise awareness of a very real issue that faces many small communities, both human and those found in nature. While his animated vision may seem too sci-fi or distopian for some viewers, the process depicted in his work is taking place all over the world. Bottled water companies take groundwater and package it in single-use plastic containers to be resold at a huge profit for the company. In many cases the water sources that they are harvesting are an essential life line for local communities and ecosystems.

In Perry’s short and bittersweet tale the little guys triumph over big business through a guerrilla effort that sabotages the extractor, but in real life we do not have to do anything that drastic. Bottled water companies rely on basic business principles of supply and demand to profit off their industry, and business has been booming for most of the 21st Century. The best way to strike back at bottled water is to STOP BUYING IT! It is time that we stopped letting bottled water be the trendy way to drink up on the go. Switch to a re-usable bottle and fill it from your own home tap. You have the ability to be responsible and take control of your water. It is cheaper and safer for you and the environment, which means that in the end we can all win.

World Water Day 2011

World water day

Today is world water day and I think it is important that we remember how lucky we are to have access to safe drinking water. According to the UN report “Sick Water” released last year on March 22, dirty water kills more people each year than violence, including war. According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon The world’s water supply is contaminated every day with “millions of tons of untreated sewage and industrial and agricultural waste”.

Have you ever had to walk a mile or more to get water from a dirty well? Take a moment to think about where your water comes from and how amazing it is to be able to turn on the tap and have fresh water delivered directly into your home! Because it is so easy for us to access clean water we often take it for granted and leave the tap running longer than necessary.

Here is a simple challenge that we can all do to help on World Water Day 2011: see how little water you can use today. Try not letting the water run while you brush your teeth, or see if you can take your shower just a couple of minutes faster. Don’t run your washing machine or dishwasher unless it is a full load. Remember that everything we buy takes water to produce.

Every little bit counts. Once you see how easy it is to reduce your own water footprint think about using those same good practices every day and tell your friends how they can help too!

Water utilities may switches to Chloramine treatment

It has already happened in parts of the country and more water utilities may switch over to a new chemical treatment for drinking water. Chloramine has been used as a disinfectant since the 1930s, but many water utilities still primarily use chlorine treatments. The San Francisco Public Utility Commission recently made the switch in part because chloramine is considered to be more stable than chlorine for water treatment.

One of the drawbacks of the switch is that chlorine can be boiled out of water and will dissipate on standing, but chloramine will not dissipate in water. Water treated with chloramine should not be used for kidney dialysis machines or for fish tanks unless it is treated with a water filter first. If you need a filter system certified to reduce chloramine I recommend the Culligan US-EZ filter system as a simple point of use filter.

Many public water utilities will switch to a chloramine treatment once per year to help balance water treatment. You should be notified by your water utility prior to any change in treatment.

You can click on this link for more information on chloramine in drinking water.

EPA to roll out more regulations for water safety

This should not come as a surprise as more and more chemicals being studied by researchers have been found to have potentially harmful effects on humans. For information from the EPA press release click here.

Some of the latest contaminants targeted for regulation are perchlorates, a chemical that is produced naturally and increased from man made interference, and can effect hormone levels in pregnant mothers. Studies have shown that perchlorates can interfere with the thyroid gland and this is the main reason it is being regulated.

The EPA has decided to address 15 others contaminants at the same time, they usually only tackle 1 chemical at a time, in an attempt to make it more cost effective to enact regulations for safer drinking water. While this is certainly a step closer to safer drinking water as a whole, we should not have to wait for federal water safety regulations to have safe drinking water.