Big Outrage

 

shutterstock_82453498Salon, your instructional guide to your daily outrage over the imperfectability of mankind – sorry, sorry, humankind! Sexism! It’s so institutional! – had a piece about how Big Beverage forced you to pay a lot of money for bottled water. (Since the industry has Big in its name, you know you’re supposed to boo and hiss, unless it’s Big Government, in which case you should fall to your knees so fast you crack the marble.) Bottled water isn’t any better than good ol’ municipal water, so you’ve been swindled with booshwa, and paid dearly for your ignorance. Big Bev compelled you to waste your money with marketing and advertising, and like most people whose brains are shallow dishes of agar waiting for the implantation of capitalism’s horrid spores, you went right along.

Well. Let’s take a look at the target market for bottled water. For the most part, people who fret about Toxins Toxins Everywhere, and prefer their produce to have been banked with night soil instead of pesticides, and abhor anything that has been genetically modified. They regard drinking tap water as the equivalent of Tchaikovsky drinking from a stagnant pail during a cholera epidemic, and besides: if the bottle says FIJI WATER it’s a sign to everyone else that you’re the sort of person who would like to go to exotic places, providing the tour operators paid the locals a living wage and contributed 10% of their profits to saving the reefs, somewhere.

In other words, the Salon audience.

I am unable to gin up the outrage over other people paying a lot of money for cleverly packaged water. Today in the grocery store with my daughter I tried to strike a balance between admiring the varieties offered, the talent involved in the label design, and counseling her to resist Fancified Water for the sake of fiscal probity. On the other hand, I bought her a bottle of the stuff once because she was besotted by the bottle’s shape, and even though she reused it over and over I can imagine the Salon writer clucking in disapproval.

The other day I was recommending a Keurig K-cup-type coffee pod that made the best damned cup of coffee I’ve ever had, only to learn that my interlocutor didn’t have a Keurig because she couldn’t live with the guilt of the waste the cups produced. “Well, that’s just one of the reasons I like them,” I said, but pointed out how these were special pods that had 42% less plastic. Can they be composted? Well, if you want to rip them open and dump the tiny amount of grounds into your Filth Bin, sure.

To be on the left these days seems to be an unending series of scrapes and abrasions, with every manifestation of American culture giving offense. Question: what will it take to make them happy? Banning plastic water bottles and K-cups is just the start, of course.

 

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  1. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    I had a conversation with one of my Seattle buddies this weekend when we went over to see their baby… more gourmet baby paraphernalia than I care to even list, including the lanolin-free, BPA-free, non-GMO nipple cream. He mentioned that they weren’t exactly using cloth diapers, but the cloth shells with little disposable inserts. The inserts, he said, were supposed to break down easier in the dumps because of … something about plastics, I think. I mentioned that I had almost sent him something about recycling, but knowing how much they love recycling, I opted against it. He got a little defensive (being a friend from childhood who knows I see through a good deal of BS) and pointed out that he knows aluminum is about the only thing that can actually be recycled. He added: “But this is Seattle, and it’s the law here.”

    • #1
  2. Reese Member
    Reese
    @Reese

    Nice outrage! Being from New Mexico, I just love Minnesota water. We were there a few years ago for a Packers@Vikings game (just days before the collapse) staying at some resort/casino south of the big city in an RV. Our fill up for travel-home water was from a garden hose kept warm in the resort’s laundromat. Sweet, soft, lather when washing, good coffee (Folgers drip).

    Give me Lake Minnetonka over “Fiji Water” any day.

    • #2
  3. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    In my municipality it’s plastic grocery bags that are banned. In the scandalous event that you forget to carry your heaping pile of reusable all-natural organic fiber cloth bags, you can buy paper grocery bags at the register for a dime apiece.

    • #3
  4. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Oh, sure… But they don’t mind playing right into the hands of Big Fluoride! Wake up Sheeple!*

    *Is that enough outrage? Or does that need more exclamation points and a revisit with caps lock?

    • #4
  5. Peter Robinson Founder
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Has anyone ever told you, James, that you’re beautiful when you’re angry?

    • #5
  6. user_139005 Member
    user_139005
    @MichaelMinnott

    The tap water here in Southern California is pretty wretched, so you can justify drinking bottled water based just on taste. The worst was when I lived in the desert outside of Palm Springs. The well water there had a high amount of sulfur, so it smelled and tasted vaguely like egg flatulence. The bottled water was worth every penny!

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    A friend told me in our college years–a liberal arts college that had an annual days of moralism event where everyone professed their concern with global issues–that she once had to go through an afternoon of sitting at a table in a seminar with a number of Western kids & professors who were worried about the plight of backwater peoples who did not have potable water while in the middle of the table everyone had placed their plastic bottles. Of course, she was by turns amused, appalled, & bored–when you have to put up with this, it can really take the vim out of you–every little seminar room was the same, everyone of course left their things in the dishwashers. Concern with everyone else’s consumption of water is the thing.

    Later, we ran into a true believer, who moved from hounding other students about wasting resources to preserving the water supply by avoiding regular ablutions. This one was a regular Gandhi. Then we started to like the hypocrites better.

    • #7
  8. user_521942 Member
    user_521942
    @ChrisWilliamson

    I make it a point when I travel to drink out of the faucet. I like to sample the local water.

    I am worried that all these bottles of water will eventually give the Water Department reason to cut back on that third filtering phase, telling us that we don’t need perfectly clean water since everyone is drinking from bottles anyway.

    • #8
  9. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    On their own, the various outrages can be quite entertaining, particularly when they collide with one another. Unfortunately, too often the outraged export their outrage to force me to do something (or not do something) because of their outrage.

    • #9
  10. user_142044 Thatcher
    user_142044
    @AmericanAbroad

    I live in a country where it isn’t a great idea to drink tap water, so I buy a few large plastic bottles of water every morning. It never ceases to amaze me how many dirty looks I get from work colleagues for my environmental sins. Of course, they use some refillable bacteria-encrusted Nalgene bottle for their water needs, which apparently, absolves them of all other environmental responsibility. These very same people who are bothered by my plastic seem to have no problem riding in gas-guzzling SUVs, jetting off for weekend getaways, or running their air-conditioners at Arctic levels.

    • #10
  11. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    On the other hand, I bought her a bottle of the stuff once because she was besotted by the bottle’s shape, 

    I’m with your daughter, James. Sometimes a bottle just looks fun, and then…I buy it. Because I have no shame.

    • #11
  12. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    The cognitive dissonance of limousine liberals knows no bounds.

    Years ago there was a thread just on this kind of liberal contradiction (such as being pro diversity in people and opposed to invasive species). One of the best ever. Can anyone find it?

    • #12
  13. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    When Vermont’s state legislature starts talking about things like mandatory composting, I want to run for office on a platform of Mandatory Composting But Only On The Front Lawns Of Representatives Who Vote For Mandatory Composting.

    I can guarantee a huge pile of votes that would rival any compost/dung heap currently fermenting in some hippie’s backyard. Oh, wait, let me fix that: The backyard of the hippie’s Mom’s house.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Peter Robinson:Has anyone ever told you, James, that you’re beautiful when you’re angry?

    James Lileks: the anti-Hulk.

    • #14
  15. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    To be on the left these days seems to be an unending series of scrapes and abrasions, with every manifestation of American culture giving offense. Question: what will it take to make them happy?

    Not that I care about making them happy, but being outraged is what makes them happy.

    • #15
  16. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    James Lileks: The other day I was recommending a Keurig K-cup-type coffee pod that made the best damned cup of coffee I’ve ever had, only to learn that my interlocutor didn’t have a Keurig because she couldn’t live with the guilt of the waste the cups produced

    This should solve the problem, and you can compost your old grounds. Of course, you will need to wash the filter and some of the water will go down the drain and eventually lead to over caffeinated fish.

    shopping

    • #16
  17. Patrickb63 Coolidge
    Patrickb63
    @Patrickb63

    “Question: what will it take to make them happy?”

    The History Channel or Discovery or TLC had a whole series on, a few years ago, about what would make liberal enviro tree-huggers happy. I think it was called “Life after People”.

    • #17
  18. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Mark Wilson:In my municipality it’s plastic grocery bags that are banned. In the scandalous event that you forget to carry your heaping pile of reusable all-natural organic fiber cloth bags, you can buy paper grocery bags at the register for a dime apiece.

    I recently pointed out to a lefty friend that the cloth bags are actually more damaging to the environment than either paper or plastic, because you have to launder them (which contributes to a number of problems, especially during a drought). She said she never laundered her cloth grocery bags. I told her that this invited cross-contamination of food-borne pathogens. She didn’t care. She was doing the environmentally chic thing, so the fact that she was risking her health was of no interest. And they call us the anti-science party. Geez.

    • #18
  19. user_157053 Member
    user_157053
    @DavidKnights

    The other day I was recommending a Keurig K-cup-type coffee pod that made the best damned cup of coffee I’ve ever had, only to learn that my interlocutor didn’t have a Keurig because she couldn’t live with the guilt of the waste the cups produced.

    Mr. Lileks, I can’t be the only one wondering what type of coffee it was, can I? Please tell us. I love my K cup brewer and am always on the lookout for a great cup of joe.

    • #19
  20. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Liberal pieties. I say we slaughter all their sacred cows and have a bonfire and bbq.

    • #20
  21. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/bz-panel-03-06-15.jpg

    Narcissism is pollution. Fight back!

    • #21
  22. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    My Grandfather never drank just water. It had to be a component of some other drink,coffee,tea or if he could afford it whiskey. He lived to be 97.

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Excluding the people who buy it because they genuinely think it’s healthier, I think the majority of buyers know that they are paying for the bottle rather than for the water.

    Carrying an empty bottle around with you at all times to fill with water when required is not practical for most people.

    It’s the same reason why people pay exorbitant prices for coffee in a paper cup rather than making coffee at home and carrying it in a thermos.

    (That being said, I freely mock the people who choose the more expensive bottled water over the cheapest, because they think it’s “healthier”. On the other hand, I do think Dasani tastes better than most bottled waters.)

    • #23
  24. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Vance Richards:

    James Lileks: The other day I was recommending a Keurig K-cup-type coffee pod that made the best damned cup of coffee I’ve ever had, only to learn that my interlocutor didn’t have a Keurig because she couldn’t live with the guilt of the waste the cups produced

    This should solve the problem, and you can compost your old grounds. Of course, you will need to wash the filter and some of the water will go down the drain and eventually lead to over caffeinated fish.

    shopping

    A word of advice: These EkoBrew inserts work much better than the Keurig-branded ones. I splurged on the stainless steel version (available on Amazon!). You get nearly all the convenience, save lots of money, select your own grounds, avoid the unnecessary preservatives, and don’t fill up landfills.

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    PHCheese:My Grandfather never drank just water. It had to be a component of some other drink,coffee,tea or if he could afford it whiskey. He lived to be 97.

    Drinks made with boiled water and or water treated with alcohol was the norm for millenia.

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Son of Spengler:

    A word of advice: These EkoBrew inserts work much better than the Keurig-branded ones. I splurged on the stainless steel version (available on Amazon!). You get nearly all the convenience, save lots of money, select your own grounds, avoid the unnecessary preservatives, and don’t fill up landfills.

    I believe the reason one might want to get the Keurig-branded version has to do with Keurig adding DRM to their coffee machines:

    http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/5/7986327/keurigs-attempt-to-drm-its-coffee-cups-totally-backfired

    • #26
  27. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Misthiocracy:

    Son of Spengler:

    A word of advice: These EkoBrew inserts work much better than the Keurig-branded ones. I splurged on the stainless steel version (available on Amazon!). You get nearly all the convenience, save lots of money, select your own grounds, avoid the unnecessary preservatives, and don’t fill up landfills.

    I believe the reason one might want to get the Keurig-branded version has to do with Keurig adding DRM to their coffee machines:

    http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/5/7986327/keurigs-attempt-to-drm-its-coffee-cups-totally-backfired

    EkoBrew’s Amazon description says it is compatible with Keurig 2.0 (the DRM version).

    • #27
  28. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    It’s a free market and I don’t blame the companies for charging as much as they can get away with. But I still shake my head when I go into a gas station to get a Coke Zero or ice tea and see that bottled water is often more expensive than the beverages that have actual ingredients.

    • #28
  29. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Water. You know what fish do in that stuff?

    • #29
  30. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Aren’t markets wonderful? The optimist celebrates convenient clean cheap hydration on every street corner. The pessimist decries the waste (provide your own politically correct definition). The cynic buys shares of Coke and Pepsi.

    Bottled water became a popular product in the 80s because soda companies recognized a serious problem. Sales were flat. What followed was the typical capitalist response by BIG SODA, force the customers to buy your product through government edict.

    Expand your market by innovating.

    Companies segmented their markets by inventing new sub brands. They purchased or created their own sports drinks. And they adapted to the market by converting a commodity, tap water, into a convenience product. Add a renewed emphasis on healthy life styles, put the soda companies in the exact place for their sales to pop.

    __________________

    What I’ve always found to be odd is that bottled water, a renewable resource, costs more per gallon than gasoline, a non-renewable resource. Markets are funny that way.

    • #30

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