Anyone who’s been to my place knows that our well water contains sulphur. At times of the year, it smells strongly of rotten eggs to visitors. When you live here, you come to assimilate the smell into our senses so it’s hardly noticeable. My niece Brodie spent several weeks a year visiting as a child and used to bring flowery-smelling bubble bath so she could bathe without gagging on the smell of our water.
When the older children were growing up, we always used to drink our own well water. If you allow the water to stand in an open container on the counter for a day or two, the sulphur taste and smell dissipates enough to make it palatable. About 25 years ago, we started to fill 5 gallon jugs with town water whenever we went to visit someone. We also filled up our jug at a neighbour’s farm where they had great drinking water with no sulphur. It’s amazing to me that the quality of well water differs so much even within a few hundred feet. I’m told that it depends on the depth of the drilled well and whether you hit a sulphur underground spring or not.
Then about 15 years ago, water coolers made an appearance on the market. These electric contraptions were upright ‘stands’ which held special 5 gallon water jugs sold in stores for around 4 or 5 dollars each, with a $10 deposit on the returnable jug. Most cooled the water but some also heated it up to nearly boiling. It seemed like a good idea at the time to get a water cooler. The kids could just help themselves to water with no more waiting or opening the fridge to get a drink all the time. We thought that it would be a good idea to simply pick up a 5 gallon bottle of water (trucked from a spring across the province) while buying groceries and reduce our dependence on family and neighbours for water. The novelty wore off within a couple of years. First of all, I don’t like my drinking water cold and I am the one who drinks the most water. So I ended up unplugging the darn thing. Then when my husband got sick, it was hard for me to lift up one of those heavy 5 gallon bottles to put on the water cooler without spilling it all over the floor in the process. Finally, I moved it out to the garage to store it. I started to purchase one gallon jugs of spring water instead. I also purchased 500 ml bottles of spring water in cases of 24 to take on-the-go. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I never bought Nestle bottled water because I’ve boycotted Nestle products for decades because of their violation of the WHO Code (read more here).
I told myself that it was alright to buy bottled spring water because
- Our well water tasted disgusting to some people
- It was from Ontario so it doesn’t have a long way to travel
- I was a faithful recycler of my plastic bottles
- Water was cheaper than other beverages like juice
I’ve been nagged by guilt for a few years now. I felt guilty about all the unnecessary plastic I was responsible for. Ever since I started recycling and composting, my ‘garbage’ has been reduced significantly to mostly wrappings around products that I buy. I thought I was being a hypocrite too because I talked the eco-talk but didn’t ‘walk the walk’. So come hell or high water, I was going to make a change in my life and stop buying bottled water. Well, it wasn’t that hard.
I was just fooling myself. In fact, our well water doesn’t taste THAT bad if I do a few things – I fill a recycled one gallon jug with tap water from my well; let it sit on the counter for 2-3 days for the sulphur smell to dissipate; then boil a kettle full at night; and finally when it’s cooled in the morning, I put it in a glass jar or two and keep them in the fridge. Voila, the sulphur taste and smell are gone! And all the healthy minerals are still in my beautiful water. There’s no added fluoride or disinfecting chemicals like in treated town water. Using my own well water is more sustainable and eco-friendly. I don’t have to go anywhere to get it and it doesn’t have to travel for hundreds of kilometers/miles to get to me – no non-renewable resources like gasoline used by the trucks which haul it. It’s more economical because it’s free except the few cents in electricity costs to run the well pump. It’s morally right and my snub to the biggest and most abusive water-bottler in the world, Nestle (read more about it here and here). Most of all, it’s healthier for me to drink my own well water rather than town water that has been chemically treated or spring water that has an expiry date stamped on the bottle.
When I go out, I can take a container of my water with me – we already have several metal and glass travel water containers and oodles of thermoses.
I admit that I DO keep some jugs of water stored for emergency use – our well pump does not work if the electricity is out. Some are clean, recycled 2 liter pop bottles filled with tap water and a few drops of bleach while others are store bought spring water.
I feel blessed that I have access to fresh, clean drinking water in a world where this right is not guaranteed.
Take 8 minutes of your life and watch the Story of Bottled Water here. I’ve taken my moral forty lashes.