Leading article: Let's cap bottled water

Share

Our report on the environmental costs of bottling, transporting and marketing drinking water exposes a dilemma for socially responsible consumers. It costs thousands of times more to produce bottled water than tap water, yet, in the industrialised world, this is no safer or healthier. Nor are the costs only financial - there is the impact on the environment of transporting an abundant natural resource, usually by lorry, and the use of millions of plastic bottles.

Yet the fashion for bottled water is only one of the most obvious of the problems of reconciling advanced capitalism with green priorities. At one level, most people are conscious of the unsustainability of flying fresh flowers and baby sweetcorn thousands of miles. At another level, we are happy to enjoy the good things in life that were once the prerogative of the super-rich. How to strike a better, and better-informed, balance between the two is one of the questions to which this newspaper is committed to finding answers.

This requires an open mind and a willingness to confront awkward political realities. We have to challenge some conventional wisdoms, one of the classic examples being the consensus that people should recycle more rubbish. British greens are fond of comparing this country's level of recycling unfavourably with that of Germany. Yet all that proves is that Germany is a more socially disciplined society. In many cases the environmental benefits of recycling are outweighed by the energy used, while the economics of plastics recycling will make sense only when green taxes on petroleum products make the raw material more expensive.

We recognise, too, the electoral obstacles to higher gas and electricity prices in this country, which are the most effective means of saving energy. The headlines generated by British Gas's plans for a 25 per cent price rise would be as nothing if the rise were imposed by politicians in the form of tax. Similarly, we go some way with the Prime Minister in his declaration last week that there is no point in simply "preventing British people getting on planes", because effective action to suppress the growth of air travel would require global cooperation. But Tony Blair suffers an appalling failure of ambition in describing the prospect of any such cooperation as "unrealistic". He cites the fact that the new Airbus is 30 per cent more fuel-efficient, but it is simply not good enough to rely on technological fixes to deal with the problem.

We hope that David Cameron and Chris Huhne, the two new green kids on the block, will come up with the practical policies to change the fiscal incentives for all consumers, green or otherwise, rather than simply dismissing the prospect as "unrealistic".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Domino Developer and Administrator

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Good2Go is the sexual consent app  

Good2Go: It's proper Sex and Relationships Education that will help end assault, not an iPhone app

Sian Norris
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)  

London is too rich, and too expensive, for its own good

Simon Kelner
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?