Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess
Thursday 01 November 2007
Next month, Claridge's opens its much-heralded Water Bar, selling 30 brands from as far afield as the icebergs of Newfoundland, the volcanoes of New Zealand, and the virgin streams of Hawaii, to "discerning" customers. These waters are more expensive than good wine. One variety, 420 Volcanic, sourced through 200m of rock, costs £21 for 42cl, which works out at £50 a litre. Who will buy this stuff? Has the world gone mad?
Fortunately, sanity is at hand. The grand opening of the Water Bar coincides with a campaign to promote London's tap water. Inspired by the French water authority's successful campaign to promote Paris tap water by rechristening it Eau de Paris, Jenny Jones, the Green member of the London Assembly, hopes to do the same for good old eau de Londres by encouraging punters to ask for it in bars and restaurants.
"Mineral" water is often nothing of the kind. Sold as health-giving and rich in minerals, it's actually subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than London tap water. And there are growing fears that plastic bottles may leach carcinogenic residues into the water.
There's also the devastating environmental impact of extracting water from the ground, packaging it and shipping or flying it round the world. Some 22 million tons of bottled water are transported each year, according to the Earth Policy Institute.
I reckon that the water that comes out of my wonderful reverse-osmosis filter unit beneath my sink – or Sloane Square Spring as I prefer to call it – is far superior. It's pure, it's cheap, and it avoids me having to lug crates of water to my flat.
Meanwhile, always looking for ways to increase my housekeeping (and inspired by an erstwhile chairman of a large water company who admitted: "It struck me ... that all you had to do was take the water out of the ground, then sell it for more than the price of wine, milk, or, for that matter, oil"), I've decided to jump on the bandwagon, so I contacted Claridge's and invited it to be the exclusive purveyor of Sloane Square Spring. Not only, I explained, does it taste delicious (entre nous, it doesn't taste of much, but then it is only water, for heaven's sake), but it is the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste water. There will be no food miles incurred because I've lined up Polish Stephan and his team of tuk-tuk drivers to deliver, and packaging will be minimal as I can use the stacks of discarded bottles that get dumped in my bike basket.
Claridge's said that the "water menu" is quite full at the moment, but they'd get back to me. Huh.
Luckily, I've got a hot new lead. Connie is now dating a chef at the Aloha! Hilton in Honolulu who is very interested. If I buy my tuk-tuk boys some pedalos, we could have a deal.
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