Friday, August 30, 2013
Water, water everywhere - São Paulo
It costs me R$4,50 (US$2) for a 500 ml (16 oz) plastic bottle of water at my favorite restaurant. That may not seem much, but this bothers me on a couple of levels: 1. That's a whole lot of recycling for one restaurant to commit to if everyone gets a bottle of water and 2. São Paulo water is actually drinkable. Yes, you'll want a filter on that, but brushing teeth and eating your salad with regular water is fine.
First let's talk about recycling in São Paulo. Let's just assume that the restaurant is in fact recycling and not just tossing the bottles into the regular trash. I read somewhere that only 30% of items left out to be recycled is actually recycled. (It's better not even to look at the percentage of overall trash that is actually recycled, currently a dismal 2% of all trash---Source here). That's too low. Plastic really bothers me as well--glass recycles better as everyone knows. I will choose brands based on plastic packaging vs glass packaging and will even pay more if necessary.
Second let's talk about São Paulo water. It is not Mexican water. You could actually drink tap water here and not get sick. Yes, you might get a little extra iron from rusted pipes but in this city, you're actually okay. It gets worse, however, as investment is made in private sources, rather than fixing the public water supply--read more here. So what's the deal? Culture? And why in the world can't a restaurant put in a super-sized filter and serve that in carafes for free? And here I will mention one of my favorite restaurants, Chez Vivi, that actually does that. It is the exception not the rule. Talking with a friend yesterday, she suggested that no one would actually believe it was filtered water--being Brazilian means finding shortcuts, so that means the staff would be filling the carafes from the unfiltered faucets. Clients would still ask for bottled water.
To me, that means it's time to fix the water supply at its source. Brazil has 12% of the world's fresh water supply yet only 4% of it is considered "excellent" quality. I'm guessing it's not a priority. Time for a free and filtered tap water campaign. Anyone?