Justice, Religion

Oy, meh haya lanu

Today is the darkest day in the Jewish calendar. It doesn’t have to be the most depressing if we use it to change our ways.
Last night, at the Mission Minyan’s reading of Eicha (the book of Lamentations), I noticed something in the text that spoke anew to me, quite strongly and damningly this year. From Chapter 5, verse 4:
We pay money to drink our own water, obtain our wood at a price.
It is easy for anyone to read Eicha, look around and draw parallels to contemporary society, whether in the modern, literal Jerusalem, or in our various communities – Jewish or otherwise. It is sadly easy to put together a compelling talk about the themes of personal, civil, spiritual and ecological destruction and degradation that Jeremiah intones, which are so revelant today.
It is also easy to stop contributing to the destruction. Stop buying your own water, the water that YOU OWN as a citizen of the earth (and of course as a taxpaying citizen of a first world country with a municipal water supply.)
I live in one of the most environmentally aware places in the US, with a delicious, pure and safe water supply coming from the Hetch Hetchy valley and dam in Yosemite…yet many people I know actually STOCK bottled water in their homes. I complain about this constantly, directly to them, to anyone who will listen. The water in Hetch Hetchy – that comes through our taps in San Francisco – is so great that my former boss at Camp Tawonga used to joke about getting rich by bottling and selling it back to all these bozos.
That’s no joke as it turns out – it’s exactly what the big bottling companies are doing. Most of the bottled water for sale in our cities comes from “municipal sources.” AKA places not even as wonderful as Hetch Hetchy.
I am tired about hearing about “convenience”. Convenience is digging us a grave of plastic. This is an easy thing to fix. Get a water bottle. Use your tap. Enjoy a wonderful municipal asset.

14 thoughts on “Oy, meh haya lanu

  1. I worked for Dr. Pepper about 10 years ago and the water from the water fountain tasted the same as the bottled “Deja Blue.” I’m sure they filtered the bottled water but it tasted exactly the same.

  2. You are extremely lucky to have a delicious, pure and safe municipal water supply. My tap water comes from a gorgeous New England mountain reservoir and tests well above all national bottled water brands for purity and taste. But we’re the exceptions.
    It’s become very very trendy lately to denounce bottled water, and the plastic waste and transport emissions that are its byproducts, but no one acknowledges that in a large percentage of the United States (the Gulf region, most of the South, the entire southwest and much of the midwest), and in an even larger percent of the world, bottled water is a necessity, and not a luxury.

  3. Well, there also shouldn’t be 5+ million people living in Arizona. But getting most of them to move to more sustainable locations is much harder than switching from bottled to (filtered) tap water.

  4. bottled water is NOT a necessity anywhere in the US.
    my family lived in new orleans and used a brita filter.
    and for those who still insist on bottled water, there are monthly delivery services of giant water bubbler bottles which are reused rather than pitched in the trash. they’re not just for offices anymore. many of my friends in LA use this service, even though – again – its unecessary in los angeles.

  5. ok ok i take back the extremism of my statement “NOT a necessity anywhere in the US.” i guess what i’d rather say is that there are better ways around this than stocking hundreds of individual bottles in one’s home. water bubblers may well be the future for people in places like pasadena. that and political activism.

  6. Excuse me for my ignorance, but well, I’m quite amazed. There are places in the United States of America where potable water isn’t available on a regular basis? That seems to be a far greater, and immediate social concern than the buildup of plastic bottles. Look, I know it took into the 70’s before Appalachia got electricity, but to think there isn’t clean running water available in the US today seems a tremendous shonda.

  7. Doesn’t anyone remember the bit in the movie “The Heathers” where Christian Slater sets up a double murder as a fake suicide by planting bottled water at the scene, thus convincing everyone that the victims were gay?
    That’s right, in the 80s only homosexuals drank bottled water. What ever happened to good ol’ fashioned American homophobia?

  8. themicah: Heathers! Wow! That movie has so many great lines!
    The scene actually involved mineral water, as opposed to regular bottled water, and was also a comment on beer drinking in Ohio male culture.
    JD (Slater) Alright, now here’s the one perfecto thing I picked up: mineral water.
    Veronica (Ryder): Oh, come on, a lot of people drink mineral water. It’s come a long way.
    JD: Yeah, but this is Ohio. I mean, if you don’t have a brewski in your hand, you might as well be wearin’ a dress.
    However, you are right about how times have changed. In fact, I’ve often thought of this scene when the topic of the bottled water craze comes up. Indeed, a guy in Ohio drinking any form of bottled water instead of beer would probably not elicit the same reaction today that “Heathers” implies he would have back in 1989.
    Veronica: “If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn’t be a human being; you’d be a game show host.”

  9. A comment from Southern California: in our community, new revelations about toxins affecting our water supply appear on a regular basis. Perchlorates are the most recent and our water district very belatedly closed a couple of contaminated wells. I’ve seen no proof that Brita and other filters adequately remove perchlorates, and when “Sarah” [above] comes to my house to replace the “giant water bubbler bottles” I’ll switch from bottled water to a delivery service. Actually, after factoring in the diesel fuel consumed by these delivery services, bottled water may be a more “green” solution.

  10. unfiltered tapwater from Jerusalem is safe, but has a strong taste that made me queasy. When I didn’ have a filter, I added grapefruit flavored syrup to it.
    DC has some water issues, though none to my knowledge that a filter can’t fix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.