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Eau Couture Water is life ~ Enjoy

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Story by Michael Ho

Two hydrogen atoms bonded with a single oxygen atom: such is the simple and elegant chemical composition of a single water molecule. Water sustains every life form on earth; it is essential to our survival. We cannot take water for granted, yet as Benjamin Franklin once noted, “we only know the worth of water when the well is dry.” According to a recent United Nations report on the state of global water quality, Canadians have it made: of 122 countries, Canada ranked second only to Finland in having the best water quality in the world.

Canada is also one of the world’s most water-rich nations, and water is a strategic global resource. Currently a full 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to enough fresh water, and this number is only going to grow as the world’s population grows and increased consumption combined with pollution increase the pressure on the Earth’s limited water resources. Whether future wars will be fought over water or not (some experts are already calling water the “oil of the future”) billions of dollars are being made by the commodification of water.

Bottled water alone is currently a $22 billion industry, and Canadians, in spite of our natural wealth of clean, potable water, are among the world’s biggest consumers of the bottled stuff, which can often cost 1000 times more than what flows from our taps. In fact, Canadians now drink more bottled water than beer or coffee. Whether it’s artesian water (defined as being from a well that taps a confined aquifer) to mineral water (which includes natural minerals); from purified (filtered municipal water, essentially) to spring (from, as one would guess, a natural spring), we can’t seem to get enough. One Canadian firm even markets water from melted icebergs. And then there are the “new” waters: these include flavoured waters (think chocolate); vitamin-enhanced waters; herbal waters; and oxygenated waters.

There’s even a patented water, Penta, that claims to be the “cleanest water available” thanks to a through a 13-step purification process. And there’s SmartWater (which currently features Jennifer Aniston in its advertisements) which is essentially distilled artesian spring water to which minerals are then added.

The latest trend? Designer waters, of course. Bling H20 is a $40 “couture” bottled water encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Surely the starlets toting this water around Beverley Hills serve nothing less to their pampered pets than K9, “the first flavoured, vitamin fortified water for dogs.”

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If the idea of bottled water is beginning to leave an aftertaste in your mouth, why not try a more “socially conscious” brand? The Robert Kennedy Jr.-backed Keeper Springs brand donates all its profits to environmental causes. The ubiquitous Starbucks’ Ethos Water donates a percentage of its proceeds to help ensure children around the world have access to clean water. One Canadian who is definitely not drinking ANY kind of bottled water is Dr. David Suzuki.

As the eminent environmentalist said in a recent CBC interview, “I don’t believe for a minute that French water is better than Canadian water. I think that we’ve got to drink the water that comes out of our taps, and if we don’t trust it, we ought to be raising hell about that.”

Not only is our water quality generally excellent in Canada (incidents like Walkerton hopefully being the exception, not the rule) The Suzuki Foundation reminds us that bottled water can have huge negative impact on our environment. Not only can it be wasteful (both of the resource itself and of the plastic bottles themselves—millions end up in landfills every year, in spite of recycling programs) but the ecological cost (in oil and other resources) to bottle and ship water around the world is enormous.

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Finallly, polycarbonate plastic bottles (which are most frequently used to bottle water) have come under fire for containing Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical found in polycarbonate plastics, the lining of food cans, baby bottles and more. BPA has been linked to an increased chance of developing breast or prostate cancer and to hastening puberty in children, and is soon to be designated a banned toxic agent by the Canadian government. (Polycarbonate is usually —but not always—identified by a number 7 on the package.)

So what is the average socially-conscious Canadian hydraphile to do if bottled water is no longer an option? Luckily, we have many. For delicious, ultra-pure water at home, invest in a water filter. These range in price from around $40 to $300 and type (from activated charcoal to ceramic filters to reverse osmosis). Most are easy to use or install and can eliminate nearly all bacteria (including E. Coli) from your drinking water.

For on the road, invest in a stainless steel or glass carrier and tuck it in your bag beside your stainless steel coffee travel mug. Glass is the best environmental option but can be breakable; stainless steel is your next best bet as it is light,easy to clean, durable, inert and sanitary.

Companies like SIGG make stainless steel bottles coated with funky patterns in all shapes and sizes (around $23). Simple, essential and now environmentally responsible—who says we can’t have our water and drink it, too?

SIGG Limited Edition
$60 Capers

SIGG Oval Water Bottle
$40 Capers

thermo water flask at

Companies like onebottle, SIGG and watermatters are customizing the BPA-free bottles in all shapes and sizes

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