GOOD

Is Bottled Water Always the Enemy?



Earlier this spring, a group of students from the Stanford Graduate School of Business took a trip through California and Nevada. Their mission: to investigate water. The trip began in Sacramento with a tour of the Delta, following the flow of water south. The group visited agricultural communities in the San Joaquin Valley, then continued down to Los Angeles and Orange County, to learn more about urban water use and corporate water management—finally examining Nevada's water use through the lens of Las Vegas.

Along the way, the group met with policymakers, corporate executives, nonprofit leaders, water managers, and farmers. Students investigated ecosystem protection, water economics and markets, wastewater treatment and recycling, water infrastructure, the water-energy nexus, water quality issues, corporate water footprinting, and climate change, to name but a few.

Here is the first installment of what they found.

Tap or mineral water? All of us on the trip make a point of carrying our refillable water bottles around as we go. For us, it's the least we can do after seeing Chris Jordan's pictures of the albatross chicks on Midway Atoll, a stretch of sand in the North Pacific.

With the ocean as their feeding ground, albatross parents pick up plastic junk that looks to them like food, bringing it back to feed their young. Every year, on this diet of human trash, tens of thousands of them die from choking, starvation, and toxicity.

We certainly wouldn't want our plastic bottle caps to be responsible for killing one more albatross, would we? But despite all of that, the water bottle has become our new friend. Here's why:






Seville, an unincorporated community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, relies on groundwater and a very old and leaky water system to service 75 houses occupied by local farm workers. While expensive water projects ensure the delivery of high quality surface water from the Sierra snowpack to agriculture in the region, local villages can't access nearby streams. Instead, they are forced to extract their water from underground reserves that became unsafe after the concentration of nitrates exceeded legal limits. Consequently, bottled water has become the main source of clean drinking water for Seville and other communities in the area that face a similar predicament.


Charity: Water
, a nonprofit organization, does a great job at mobilizing people for clean water in developing countries. The work of such nonprofits on the international scene unintentionally contributes to the misconception that dirty water only exists in the developing world. Dirty water is all around us in California —and some people drink it because they don't have the means to buy bottled water.

While city dwellers' efforts to avoid bottled water are commendable, water bottles still remain necessary for some.

Robyn Beavers became a pioneer in the cleantech and renewable energy movement eight years ago while at Stanford University, where she organized a campus-wide credited seminar on clean technologies. Robyn is now completing her studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she is a candidate for a 2010 MBA.

Bernadette Clavier is the Associate Director of the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. In her spare time she created an organic food program for Bay Area schools, trains as a disaster first respondent, and advocates for autism spectrum disorders awareness.


A version of this post appeared at Stanford Graduate School of Business' Center for Social Innovation.

Articles
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading
Culture

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading