Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bottled Water Boondoggle

BoingBoing recently posted a new video by the makers of The Story of Stuff, this time about bottled water.

I've written before about the Story of Stuff. It makes what I found to be a very clear, straight-foward argument for consuming less stuff. It didn't seem controversial to me. But, of course, it has been attacked by Glenn Beck and Fox News in general.

The Story of Bottled Water, like its older sibling "Stuff," seems uncontroversial to me:

Recently, though, the Minnesota Republican party has been attacking Minneapolis and its mayor, R.T. Rybak (a Democrat who is running for governor) for spending money to promote the use of Minneapolis tap water. Local blogger Ed Kohler has written a number of posts on this, including pointing out that it's in the city's interest to discourage bottled water because of the cost of getting rid of the bottles.

Which brings me to the photographic work of Chris Jordan. As he describes it, his series, called Running the Numbers (newly released as a book):

looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on.

My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month.
This image shows "two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes":

Blurry, dull colored mass of something in a photo

Partial zoom:
Oh, it's plastic bottles. Lots of them.

Detail at the actual size of the huge photo:
Lots of water and soda bottles

Two million plastic beverage bottles. The number used in the U.S. every five minutes.

Then, as The Story of Bottled Water says, many of these bottles are shipped to India or other developing countries, where they're either "down-cycled" or put in the trash.

And all we have to do to stop this whole chain of stupidity is to drink from the damn tap.

Here's another past post about bottled water.

1 comment:

David Steinlicht said...

Those are nice films. Well reasoned and easy to follow.

I was surprised to note that one of the films featured is an argument against "Cap and Trade." Surprised only because I haven't given Cap and Trade much thought other than, "Lower pollution -- good."