Which water would you prefer? Sparkling, tap, pure, arctic ice, reclaimed water, desalinated?

I'll have the limited edition Arctic sea ice water (1)

What do you say when a server in a restaurant asks you the kind of water you’d like to have – sparkling, still, or tap (also known as regular)? Do you respond with one of the options given, or do you ask for bottled water? How about you are given an opportunity to have customised water? Customised can mean unleaded (I just made this up), pure, or mineral.

If pure, would you like to have treated through deionisation, reverse osmosis, carbon filtering, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, ultraviolet filtration, or electrodeionization? If mineral, what kind of minerals do you want in it? If spring, which spring do you want it from? If bottled, what brand do you prefer? Last, but not the least, at what temperature do you want it to be? Chilled, slightly chilled, slightly warm, warm, 35 deg Celsius?

Wait, the list hasn’t finished yet. Would you like spring water dug from underground or surface water? Or do you prefer we fetch it from a well? We also have a limited edition Arctic ice water that has been melting away from the ice sheet for quite some time now. Would you like water from a desalination plant or reclaimed water such as NEWater? We also have well-preserved rainwater for your disposal.

Perhaps in the future, there will be a way to mimic the exact water composition from a particular spring so that we no more deplete groundwater? Who knows maybe it has been condensed from the fog? Perhaps someday you’ll have your own portable fog collector. Because how do you know the restaurants are telling the truth? We will then need third-party certifications such as Pure Random Estimations (P.U.R.E.)?

Why do we waste so much?

“You should eat everything that is served in your plate! Don’t waste anything.”, said my mother and she has been saying it ever since I was an infant. Many of us can relate to this in one form or the other, from one person or the other.

Ever wondered why we waste so much? Why do we waste food, water or anything for that matter? Is it something innate to us? What could possibly be the psychology behind such a behavior?

When I was about 20 years old, I heard a yoga instructor say, “Your stomach is not a garbage bin, if you don’t need it, don’t push it inside you, do not eat it. You are causing more harm that good.” She was right, in a way. Only problem I think with this piece of advice is that it needed an iteration of the question ‘why?’ Why did we feel obligated to not waste food? Why is it morally right to not waste food? If we have to waste food, why do we harm our own bodies for being morally right? Why do we create so much food needlessly? What do we think when we do all this?

My main point was that our perception of waste is relative to our experience of scarcity, and for most of us, things like water, food and energy do not feel scarce, even though, taken globally, they are. In so far as there is a solution, it may lie in simulating the experience of scarcity. I do this incidentally once a year when I visit my in-laws in India, where I learn to live with water shortages and power cuts, even in a relatively developed and affluent part of one of their main cities, Bangalore. – Jonathan Rowson, RSAblogs

Did this ever happen to you? Did you ever experience scarcity? I have. We had a 24 hour water supply for a few days, when I moved to a new place. The new society was yet to have a good foundation of rules. After our society was fully populated, new rules were made. Water was then only supplied for two hours, one hour each, morning and evening. We felt the scarcity. It was uncomfortable. We bought new storage tanks to store water. My mother made sure that nobody wasted water in the house. She’s been always the same, she must have experienced scarcity long back but we, the ones who have not ever lived in a world like she has, do not know of scarcity but we are experiencing it now. She always coaxed me into building things from waste, to save resources. She, like many mothers or people alike out there have continued this legacy, for the good.

A layperson may ask, “We have so much water in the oceans, then why do people say ‘Save Water’?

Everyday, something or the other strengthens my belief in this quote from the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still: “People change at the precipice.”

“Fifty-four percent of the world’s food wastage occurs “upstream” during production, post-harvest handling and storage, according to FAO’s study. Forty-six percent of it happens “downstream,” at the processing, distribution and consumption stages.”

Read more: Food waste harms climate, water, land and biodiversity – new FAO report