A while ago I was discussing new topics to cover with the director of a fashion magazine. I proposed shooting some pictures and doing an article on water and a number of related issues (water shiatsu, the Hado project, giving birth in water…). I didn’t propose writing about the controversy over privatization of water by multinational corporations or the related boycott campaigns, like the one that targets Nestlé, because that would have been too much for a fashion magazine. However, since several environmental organizations were talking about the hidden price of water, I suggested mentioning those campaigns.
The director grinned at me stifling a laugh and said something like: “You must be joking! You know how much money we get from water advertisers? Do something really useful, find a way to downplay the controversy and put bottled water in a good light. The best would be if you could prove that bottled water were somehow good for the environment”.
That report was never done. All I managed to do – a few months later and for a different magazine – was a series of pictures of a model covered by droplets of water. The pictures illustrated an article written by someone else on the importance of using certain creams to hydrate the skin.
I really enjoyed shooting those pictures. Still, I feel that readers might sometimes appreciate a wider range of information.
For those interested in knowing a bit more about bottled water, Ethicalconsumer published a well documented article that explains how
- extraction leads to water shortages
- transporting bottled water produces tons of carbon dioxide emissions and contributes to climate change
- disposing of the packaging releases toxic chemicals
- and much more…
There are several organizations passionately involved in this issue, like Newdream, whose interactive website provides much interesting information and practical tips.
More information on Food and Water Watch: “It takes more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans every year. Eliminating those bottles would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Each one of those bottles required nearly five times its volume in water to manufacture the plastic and may have caused the release of nickel, ethylene oxide, and benzene. Then, rather than being recycled, 86 percent of them are thrown away. Breaking down these plastics can take thousands of years, while their components seep into our water supplies”.
About the carbon footprint and the recycling of plastic bottles, several data are found on Time For Change, on the Green Cotton Blog and on the World Water War site. “The story of bottled water” is a really interesting video.
But bottled water is far from being the only trouble.
In 1993 the United Nation General Assembly declared March 22 as World Water Day. Every year several organizations, like The Global Water Partnership, meet to discuss how to manage the water related problems of our planet.
According to Friends of the Earth:
- Thirty one countries and over 1 billion people completely lack access to clean water.
- More than five million people, most of them children, die every year from illnesses caused by drinking poor-quality water.
- A child dies every 8 seconds from drinking contaminated water.
Sounds pretty serious, huh? Still, magazines have a strong preference for covering stuff like skin hydratation creams rather than other issues connected to water…
Wouldn’t it be great to find both sorts of information in their pages?
Magazines are apparently sinking into their own limited and obsolete system. How long is it going to take them to get updated from the dissemination of advertiser-friendly information to the dissemination of a wider range of useful news?