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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Posters could land Boris in cold water

If Boris Johnson supports the London On Tap campaign, then why are Tube stations covered in posters advising people to carry a bottle of water in the hot weather? I definitely saw one such poster (bearing Boris' "MAYOR OF LONDON" logo) today, including an image of a disposable plastic water bottle. The carbon footprint of some brands of bottled water can be up to 300 times more than that of tap water, and the Mayor himself has said: "Bottled water is environmentally damaging because it causes unnecessary waste and pollution. Tap water is a cheaper option which will also help protect and preserve the environment." Why, therefore, is he spending taxpayers' money on posters that encourage people to drink bottled water? What happened to the water fountains that he promised us?

Tap versus bottled water is a serious environmental issue (which came to my particular attention when I worked for Thames Water, of whom (to declare an interest) I am an ex-employee). The Greater London Authority is clearly taking steps to improve access to drinking water. Do these posters really square with the Mayor's proclaimed "vision" of more accessible drinking water

London is enjoying and enduring the meteorological equivalent of Gordon Browns's boom-and-bust economic policy, as this morning's rainy chill gives way to the start of a heat wave. London's ergonomics don't suit hot weather, hence the need for Londoners to keep cool with water - although even that is arguably not as true as it might be. But that doesn't justify encouraging people to carry bottles of water, given all the other drinks that can be bought, and given how easy it is not to buy anything, but instead to fill a receptacle with water from a tap at home or at work.


  1. Are you really that stupid? Are you incapable of understanding that someone could use free tap water to fill up a bottle and then take that bottle with them on the Tube? What else are they supposed to carry the water in whilst Underground, or do you think it's a bad idea to let people drink water when on the Tube? This was just a cheap and brainless attempt to get a headline to attack Boris with.

  2. Good gracious! It's a "troll". Troll is online slang for the sort of person who wanders round blogs posting comments (often anonymously) that express extreme anger.

    Because, yes, obviously, if I express an opinion with which you disagree, it means that I am "stupid", and it's appropriate for to come online and say so...I think I was probably aged nine the last time that I called somebody "stupid".

    If you are the sort of angry, bullying person who goes around saying: "Are you that stupid?", then that is very much your problem and not mine, and my best course of action might be not to engage with you, but instead to suggest that you go outdoors and take a deep breath in the nice weather.

    To address the point that you make: a key word in my post was "disposable". In the poster, the image is of a clear plastic bottle of the sort that is intended to be used only once and then thrown away - precisely the sort that is used by the bottled mineral water industry.

    Plastic bottles of mineral water usually say, on the label, that the bottle must not be re-used on health and safety grounds (I believe it's something to do with bacteria accumulating in the plastic), that being one of the reasons that bottled water is bad for the environment.

    You'll have seen also (you DID read the whole post before commenting, didn't you?) that I had already written in my post that people can: "fill a receptacle with water from a tap at home or at work" - just not a throw-away, disposable plastic bottle.

  3. is an article about non-disposable water bottles.

    Given that bottled water, or mineral water, was barely sold in Britain until it became trendy in the 1980s, what used to happen on the Tube in past times?

    In the drought of 1976, when it was very hot, do you honestly imagine that everyone was sat on the Tube drinking water from disposable plastic bottles? Obviously not, and yet people survived somehow, didn't they?

    Of course, I often buy disposable plastic bottles of water myself, including on the Tube. My point is that it is wrong for the Mayor to spend taxpayers' money on posters encouraging people to carry disposable bottles of water, when he is signed up to a campaign encouraging precisely the opposite!