A California company is selling jugs of untreated water from Opal Springs in Deschutes County where tens of thousands of people get untreated spring water from their taps. The bottled and tap water passes state and federal regulations: It’s pristine at the source.
Some of my students are studying EcoTypes axes these days, and it’s always handy to find current events or news items that exemplify these admittedly abstract axes. This is one I just bumped into, and it’s a perfect example of the nature axis (as well as the science axis, the spirituality axis, the technology axis, and possibly a few others):
Fans are quenching their thirst for “raw water” – water with no chemicals or other treatment that passes federal regulations because it’s clean at the source.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Lee Sayer, a musician in San Francisco and anti-fluoride activist who has been drinking raw water for months. “You have water that’s processed through the earth through natural processes – it’s cleaned. And being that water has memory, it has a memory of tumbling through the rocks. It has micronutrients and I believe it’s alive.”
Sounds great, yes? But read the first few lines:
When people in central Oregon’s Madras, Culver and Metolius turn on their taps, untreated spring water flows forth. It costs them less than a penny per gallon.
A company in California buys that same water and sells it in big glass jugs for up to $8.60 a gallon around Los Angeles and San Francisco.
What’s going on here? Well, money is certainly being made. And it’s being made on a popular idea of nature as pure.
But isn’t nature indeed pure when it’s untouched by humans? Um, read that nature axis overview and you’ll see why contemporary scholars quibble with this notion, and for good reason.
Based on this article at least, we have a good example of the following EcoTypes axis poles:
- Pure (vs. hybrid) nature
- Alternative (vs. mainstream) science
- Sacred (vs. secular) approach to environmental issues
- Technophobia (vs. technophilia)
I love that one company name: “Fountain of Truth Spring Water.” Yes, it sells water to willing customers. But it’s also selling ideas customers want to hear. EcoTypes helps us be thoughtful about the ideas that move us.
And maybe we’ll remember that tap water is the water of the people—maybe that’s where our energy can go. The raw water movement is not going to help the bulk of our population; better tap water will. Let’s not let the ideas that move us move us in the wrong direction.