DMZ water coming to a Korean grocery store near you

With all the bottled water you’ll find on grocery store shelves these days, any new player absolutely has to have a gimmick. There are just too many brands on the market. So, a company really does need to go the extra mile to stand out. That’s probably why “DMZ 2km” is getting some media love.

DMZ 2km is drawn from a plant in the southern half of the Korean peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone, the 4 km border area that has split North Korea from South Korea for more than 50 years. On land, there is razor wire – and plenty of landmines. Soldiers walk patrols, and there’s sometimes gunfire. Underneath all this is a spring that ultimately feeds the plastic bottles that consumers can buy for 600 won (50 cents) a pop.

The water bottle is adorned with a bird, which is representative of the wildlife that now lives in the DMZ, which hasn’t had much human activity in half a century. More than 2,900 different plant species are estimated to live there, along with 70 mammals and 320 bird types.

Lee Sang-hyo, spokesman for Lotte Chilsung Beverage, tells Reuters, “We decided on water from the DMZ because it’s different, and the environment there is untouched, so many people thinks it’s clean.” Fortunately, he continues, “Getting the water is not dangerous at all. We worked it all out with the military.”



[Photo by Constantin B. via Flickr]

Tourists in Venice urged to drink the water

Collecting the trash in Venice is no easy feat. After all, it’s not like a garbage truck can just drive down the street – there aren’t any. Garbage is collected by workers with wheelbarrows and then loaded onto barges and costs about $335 million per ton to remove (compared to $84 million per ton on the mainland of Italy).

In an effort to reduce these costs, the Venetian government is asking locals and tourists to drink water from the tap instead of buying plastic bottles. The city’s tap water meets the highest purity standards, but many people are still buying bottled water from stores and in restaurants. To help promote the tap water, officials have started calling it “Acqua Veritas” and selling glass bottles labeled as such. The hope is that the fancy bottles will encourage people people to drink from the tap, reducing trash and the cost to remove it from the island.

With tourists outnumbering locals 100 to 1, visitors to Venice may have the greatest impact on the trash situation. So when in Venice, forgo the plastic and drink from the tap instead.

Is the beer too cheap in Britain?

Apparently, some people in Britain are mad because stores are charging less for beer than they are for bottled water.

When I was in parts of Czech Republic and Poland last month, beer was always cheaper than water. And did it affect me? Well, yes, it did — but that’s because I had a hard time discerning which bottles of water were carbonated or not. There were times when I never did figure it out, and if I’m going to drink a bubbly beverage, it’s not going to be water. And you’d have to take out a small personal loan to pay for 7 ounces of Coke Light, so what am I supposed to do? Get the cheapest thing available: beer.

But some people in Britain feel differently. They’re afraid that lowering the cost will increase sales and therefor increase binge drinking. It’s hard, for the most part, to disagree with them — it makes economic sense. If you lower the cost of an item people are regularly buying, chances are they will purchase more of that product.

“Evidence from Finland also suggests a link between price and consumption. There, tax on alcohol was slashed by 40 per cent in 2003,” according to an article by This is London. “Since then, drink sales have soared 11 per cent.”

They are, however, failing to make a link between increased sales and binge drinking. Someone could be buying a bunch of the cheap beer and storing it in their basement for all the government knows. Can you assume that lower cost equals increased consumption? I, for one, welcome the cheap beer.


Is Travel Inherently Bad for the Planet?

I have a problem with having to buy bottled water when traveling to some countries. At home, I always try to drink tap water since bottled water is becoming such a burden on the environment, but I don’t see how to get around it in China or Egypt, for example. Is there? I don’t think those pumps are a way to go…

I have to admit, sometimes I get a mild form of travel-phobia. As much as I am addicted to it, I wonder if traveling is actually good for us. Yes, through traveling we become more cosmopolitan, open-minded and all that. At the same time, with so many people traveling and globalization, places are becoming so uniform. Cafes in Europe often seem like museums of lifestyle than an indication of real lifestyle. No matter how much ones tries not to “ruin it”, every traveler leaves a mark. Speaking of marks, there is also the carbon footprint we leave, as Neil points out. All in all, traveling seems a little self-serving sometimes. What a depressing thought…

Avoid Tap Water: Bottled Water Only

Boil your water at a rolling boil for at least five minutes was the adage of the Peace Corps nurse in The Gambia. I’d guestimate on most occasions since day after day it was hard to remember to check when water actually started to boil, and how much time had passed after it did. For the most part, I was faithful about my drinking water and only strayed a couple of times from a clean source. When I couldn’t boil it because I was on a cargo boat heading to Timbucktu for four days, and the bottled water we took with us ran out, dumping iodine tablets into Niger River water was the only option. It worked. I guess.

Joan Peterson, author of “Eat Smart” guides says that not drinking tap water is the #1 key to keeping your stomach happy with you. She probably would cringe at the river water story.

I’ve heard before that it’s not the water at the source that’s necessarily bad, it’s that the pipes it passes through may not be in such good shape. Or, the water passes too close to sewage so the water picks up bacteria along the way. That’s what I’ve heard. I have no idea if this is actually true.

Regardless, Peterson says to drink only bottled water and avoid ice-cubes. (It was interesting to me that in the recent Academy award nominated movie, Babel, Cate Blanchett’s character looked uptight and not an easy-going traveler like Brad Pitt ‘s character because she chastised him for using ice when they were traveling through Morocco.)

Peterson also says to use bottled water for brushing teeth.

Like I said, I’m with Peterson if you can manage it, and I dump out ice. Here is a fact sheet from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, College of Human Ecology on how to treat water.