Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Water awareness

A new installation has been launched at Heathrow Airport, a giant 6 metre high pump in the Terminal 5 departures concourse to raise awareness of the water pumps in developing countries which water brand One Water donates all its it profits to. Passengers can donate by text or through buying bottles of One Water, with over 2 million bottles already sold at Heathrow’s retail empire. It’s brilliant to raise awareness and funds for practical programmes to the 1 billion people without access to clean water, but does it have to be by buying bottled water? Whatever the merits of One Water, there is still a lot of packaging and transportation involved.

It’s like buying a fur coat to promote animal rights or eating veal to show support for vegetarianism. It reminds me of British Airways sponsoring an ice rink at the British Natural History Museum, considering their contribution to climate change. Or Heathrow Airport roping some local children into planting 2,500 trees to create a woodland that, according to Airport Watch, the UK umbrella group opposing unconstrained airport expansion, would be unlikely to survive if the contentious third runway goes ahead.

As for having an exhibition about water at an airport. Airports use a huge amount of water and pollute waterways with de-icing chemicals like glycol. I didn’t go to Heathrow Airport to see the water installation or go out to buy some One Water. Instead I took a walk around Bilberry Reservoir in Kirklees, this photo caught the sun on it quite well. Somehow though, by the time our water comes out of the tap it tastes very chlorinated, maybe if there was less chlorine or it was filtered better more people would be happy to drink tap water. I’ve got one of those filter jug things.

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