I’m waiting for the train to Buffalo and trying to read Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World by Holly Morris. I’m just too excited to get through a single sentence. Sure, I’m eager to visit my family and friends, but I’m even more excited by the prospect of going to Africa next summer. Rather than reading about adventure divas, I can’t wait to be one. Just last night, my husband offered to cover the cost of my African volunteer travels as a graduation present. Today I can think of nothing else.
The latest impetus for my desire to volunteer presented itself a week ago. Tim and I won a bid on concert tickets to benefit a local rescue. The package included VIP parking, access to the bar and a full spread of hors’ devours at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Rarely treating ourselves to such luxury, when the day came to use the tickets I truly tried to enjoy the pre-concert festivities. Instead, I found myself disgusted with the shear amount of waste. (According to I-Saratoga, this has been an ongoing issue.)
Caked with food, hundreds of plastic spoons, knives, forks and plates were carelessly mixed with recyclable bottles. Recycling bins were nowhere in sight. I watched VIPs throw plates away only to re-enter the food line and grab new ones. As I watched one woman finish half of her soda and throw the rest away, I could help but think of the poor populations in Columbia and India waiting to drink rain from their gutters thanks to exploitation of water resources by beverage corporations. It was painfully obvious that most attendees were unconcerned with their own environmental and social impact on the world through simple, everyday practices.
Many important issues specifically surround Coca-Cola, the corporation contracted for this venue, and yet they are somehow not general knowledge:
- The beverage, when produced in a third world country like India, depletes the local farmers’ water table while pollution destroys what remains.
- Coca-Cola, traditionally anti-union, allegedly hired right-wing death squads to terrorize and murder workers at its Colombian bottling plant.
- 3 liters of waste water are required for each liter of Coke produced, used for machine maintenance and plant clean-up. (See death squad article.)
- By Coke’s own admissions, their Dasani bottled water is nothing more than tap water sold as “pure” water, in which they add twice the limit for bromite, a cancer causing agent, to improve the taste index.
The following issues apply not just to Coke, but to every beverage provider:
- Two cups of oil are already burned, pre-consumption, while making and transporting the plastic bottle.
- Diet drinks, in particular, contain the drug Aspartame, a toxin rejected for 16 years by the FDA — until Rumsfeld pulled political strings. (Rumsfeld was the CEO of Searle, the company that produced Aspartame, using his political power to injur American health in the name of profit.)
I took a hard look at the crowd, unbothered, unenlightened, simply waiting to be entertained. Sheep. Armed with the knowledge of consumerism, I was no better. Simply being there meant I was complicit in atrocities of gross excess.
Before the music began, I turned to Tim and said, “I want to go to Africa.”
“Right now?” he asked.
I answered, “Yeah. I need to dig a well.”