by Adam Guzman-Poole
Have you ever thought, like I did, that the problem of climate change was so big you didn’t know where to start? Like a black cloud that just floated above you and might burst at any moment? For years I ignored the problem, because I didn’t have the slightest clue how I could make a difference.
Imagine how it would feel to be proud to contribute locally to an effort that will make a positive impact on the climate and on your community. And with concerted effort, to something that could spread worldwide.
Well, come on down!
(THIS POST INCLUDES UPDATES ON OUR WORLD WATER DAY ACTION ON MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019)
The Ottawa Water Study/Action Group (OWSAG) has launched a campaign right here in Ottawa to end bottled water, and we hope other cities will follow. We’re looking for support from you!
Less than 14% of Bottled Water Bottles are Recycled
By the time you finish reading this article, more than three million plastic bottles will be manufactured. Less than fourteen percent of those bottles will be recycled, which means more than eight in ten bottles will end up in a landfill … or the stomach of a whale. The plastification of our world is serious problem, and contributes to the negative effects of climate change, but it also puts our planet’s most important resources at risk. Ironically, that resource is water.
The Water Disclosure Project (www.cdp.net/en/water) says that “much of the impact of climate change will be felt through changing patterns in water availability” and that with the rising temperatures caused by climate change, we can expect intense droughts. This means a worldwide water shortage that in as little as twelve years time will affect billions of men and women who will live with water scarcity.
Despite the importance of water to humans and how finite of a resource it is, our government allows large corporations to extract this resource from our lakes right here in Ontario, for fractions of pennies, only to sell it back to us at a cost more expensive than gasoline. Meanwhile, first nations communities neighbouring these operations struggle to get clean water in their own communities.
Bottled Water is Not Safer
In spite of what we’ve been brainwashed to believe, bottled water is not safer than tap water in North America. Lauren DeRusha Florez, an associated campaign director with Corporate Accountability International says: “The bottled water industry has spent millions of dollars to convince us that the only place you can get safe water is from a bottle.”
Our tap water in Canada is regulated and undergoes vigorous safety testing. Bottled water, on the other hand, doesn’t have to meet any of those standards to be distributed.In scores of scientific tests, bottled water has failed to show it is any safer than tap water.
Interesting this could be because almost half of all bottled water consumed is just regular tap water.
And don’t forget the amount of oil used to make a year’s worth of bottles for the planet could fuel a million cars for more than that same year. Plus, transporting that water to selling locations by truck increases the carbon footprint, further contributing to that dark cloud of climate change.
If we don’t do anything about it. That is, “IF” we don’t do anything about it…
Just recently, I was confronted with the question: “Will I live long enough to see my grandkids? And if I do, what kind of world will they live in?”
It seems a strange thing to ask at twenty seven, but the question was sparked after reading the results of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report, which painted the picture of a future the resembled Armageddon. The six hundred page report written by ninety one scientists basically said that if we don’t do something, now, in a short twenty years, the effects of climate change will be irreversible.
That is why we are coming together to create a coalition of committed citizens to create the Ottawa we want to live in. We know that this a small step when it comes to the larger challenges posed by climate change, but an important one, because it will serve as symbol to unite us a city. A city that says yes to earth and is proud to be leading the way for a better tomorrow.
San Francisco Banned Sales of Bottled Water!
Recently, San Francisco banned the sales of bottled water, serving as a leader in the United States. Imagine if Ottawa could be leading that type of change in Canada. Imagine if the citizens of this city could stand proud knowing we took an active stance for the climate, for our communities, and for our families.
Help Create a Better Ottawa
Join us as we create a better Ottawa. This March 22nd, on World Water Day, we plan to come together as proud citizens to demand that the city bans the use of plastic bottles in City Hall. Join us as we create the Ottawa, we want to live in.
There have been moments in the last century, when people have been asked to stand for greatness, to stand for truth. Women stood in 1920 to demand the right to vote. In 1944 we united as a world to stand against tyranny in World War II, and again we stood as one in 1954-1968 for the justice of the civil rights movement. And today, we are being asked to stand under those same principles of justice, unity, and, equality. To take stand for the earth, for the water, and for future of our cities and communities. We are being asked to unite for our
Nothing great was accomplished alone — we need your help! Please stop right now and send us an email at email@example.com to stay connected with upcoming events, volunteer your time, skills, and support.
We need you if we are going to create an Ottawa that is leading the way for Canada. Join the movement as we take one great step forward in creating the city and world want.
Imagine if we could look back at this time in history and say we did something, and took a stand! Though we know that ending bottled water in Ottawa is only one step, it is an important step, because this is the beginning of us coming together as a community to unite for something far greater than we could imagine. It is the beginning of us creating a coalition of committed people that said “yes” to the future we want to create. On World Water Day, March 22nd, we are coming together to demand that the City bans the use of plastic bottles.
Who are “we”? We hope to involve a maximum number of concerned organizations and citizens, and include the OWSAG, Ottawa Quakers, Council of Canadians, Ecology Ottawa, and many others. We are planning a direct action event to address the issue of bottled water.
Date – Monday, March 25, 2019 at 12 p.m.
What – Creative Action at Ottawa City Hall
Why – Call for a ban on bottled water and promote Ottawa's high quality tap water.
Specifically, we will ask Ottawa City Council to take a first step in implementing a concrete action. Presently Ottawa city council sell bottled water in municipal building s under contracts with Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. We will ask City Hall to stop selling plastic water bottles in municipal buildings when these contracts expire.
We know that this is just a small step in beginning to tackle the huge issue of disposable plastic bottles. However, it can be a very good first step, because a better alternative is available, our high quality municipal tap water.
Join us as we take one more step forward in creating the city and world want.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2019 PEN Insider issue.
Eric Schiller is a founding member of OWSAG and a retired University of Ottawa civil engineering professor.