Bottled Water Free Day, March 18
KAIROS, its companions and communities, and many of its member churches and organizations have long advocated for the right to clean water. From the municipal to the provincial, federal, and international levels, we have been inspired in this work by the words of our faith, which equate justice with an ever-flowing stream, and describe the river of life flowing through the New Jerusalem.
We’ve also been guided by our global partners, who see access to their only source of water cut off by the Separation Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, their wells poisoned by waste from oil extraction in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio district, or “community” standpipes shut and locked in rural Uganda unless you have the money to turn them back on. And we have learned from our Indigenous sisters and brothers in Canada, who tell us stories of pulling buckets of cold, clean water from the muskeg that once covered the land where tar sands operations now stand, and who have walked hundreds of miles around the Great Lakes, carrying water to remind us of our duty to protect it.
One of the key symbols in this work has been the ubiquitous bottle of water … the contents of which sometimes come straight from a natural spring and other times from the local municipal source. Either way, we’re paying for (and thereby commodifying) a product that the United Nations General Assembly declared a human right in July, 2010. The very notion of buying bottled water when a safe and publicly funded utility provides us with an equally safe source of drinking water undermines the collective understanding of water as something which we all require for life and to which we are all entitled. Furthermore, every bottle of water we buy sends a message that it’s okay for governments to not invest in water infrastructure — we don’t need public water; we can buy it from corporations. And every bottle adds to the waste that we leave behind as we journey through this world — whether that waste takes the form of plastic trash or carbon emissions.
In light of this, KAIROS is once again endorsing Bottled Water Free Day on March 18. What can you do?