I missed Nuit Blanche last year, so I had a great time this Saturday and Sunday wandering around with some teammates from the Iron Dragons. I won't say more, but you can view some photos at Torontoist or on Kim's Flickr account. Also, I have to go back to Bau-Xi sometime for a less hurried look.

Around 1 AM we were passing through Yorkville and squeezed into the packed Bay & Cumberland Starbucks to get some java (Disclaimer: I'm still a Second Cup nut! A friend passed me a $20 Starbucks card he was given but didn't intend to use). I picked up a couple of bottles of ethos water for our friends.

This ended up bothering me for the rest of the night. Ethos water? The premise (providing clean water to poor children) is nice, but I have a very strong distaste for "consumption philanthropy." Eliminating breast cancer is another cause that is avariciously exploited. Faced with the choice to:

  • enable people to do marginal good via increased consumption, or
  • encourage people to do good for its own sake and reduce consumption

…the latter is vastly preferable. Some entries in the August Harper's Index echoed facts available on Wikipedia; namely that 3-5 l of water is used to produce and transport a bottle of water, not including the water being sold, that the millions of bottles sold annually are made from petrochemicals, and that they are rarely recycled. On top of this, though 10¢ of my more-than-$2 purchase went to humanitarian work, Ethos Water made some unspecified profit.

Put another way, why not buy a Nalgene and use it (as my mother has) for 20 years. You'd spend $10 once and the (clean, conveniently fluorinated) tap water is free. Instead of buying two-dollar bottled water a few times a week, spending perhaps $6000 and thereby contributing $300, you could save or even invest that money, give thousands to humanitarian works and reduce your carbon footprint.

With a little thought, it's usually apparent how to solve the right problem.


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