Fiji water is extolled by nutritionists and celebrities as the non plus ultra of liquids.  Apparently rich in silica it is cleverly marketed as veritable elixir of youth and health. And that’s not all.  According to its website `Fiji Water never meets the compromised air of the 21st century.’  

What a load of old cobblers. 

This crazy thirst for designer water is having a devastating environmental impact because of the huge resources needed to extract it from the ground, package it and ship it round the world.   

Some 22million tons of bottled water are transported each year between countries, according to the Earth Policy Institute.

I reckon the stuff that comes out of my wonderful reverse osmosis filter unit beneath my sink is far superior.  It’s pure, it’s cheap, has no carcinogenic residues from leaching plastic bottles and avoids the need to lug crates of water into my flat.  Perhaps I should bottle it.  I reckon `Sloane Square Spring’, or how about `Eau de Sloane’ (elegant, non?) would rocket off the shelves. 

But I’ve had bad experiences with Fijian water so I’m particularly prejudiced against it.  A few years ago when I was a gullible easily influenced person I signed up to `firewalk round the world!’ on a Tony Robbins motivational course.  I ended up in Fiji, sharing a room with a deranged American heiress (I know, I thought we’d have a lot in common too) who became increasingly peculiar as the week went on.  The fire walking sent her over the edge and the Fijian CID were posted outside our room to prevent her from drowning. 

Even more alarming were the endless seminars during which we were kept `hydrated’ with bottles of `oxygenated’ penta water (another ludicrously over hyped elixir air freighted from California) and endless bottles of Fijian water – out of the same bottles you see in Waitrose.  Water was poured from these plastic bottles into plastic cups which we drank out of once before being thrown away in vast plastic bin bags. 

I spent a disagreeable week jumping into rivers full of poisonous fish to learn to `trust the universe’ and listening to my fellow firewalkers rave about `swimming with Tony’, like he was some sort of magic dolphin.  But all the time I was tormented by the hideous thought that we were poisoning Fijian landfill sites with festering plastic bottles and cups that were going to take up to 1000 years to biodegrade.

Tentative suggestions that we keep our cups with us to be refilled were met with incredulous looks by our `trainer’, a brainwashed Robbins trainee who was trying to keep our team in order.

I hoped to be distracted by our growing waste mountain when stormin’ Norman, the gulf war veteran, jetted in to give us a pep talk. Strutting onto the stage squeezed into a pair of tight black jeans (perhaps he was as waterlogged as we were) accompanied to thrilling top gun footage of swooping planes he waited to take questions from the adoring audience. 

`If Kuwait had exported potatoes not oil would we have invaded?’ I piped up from the back.  Unsatisfied by his waffle about human rights in Kuwait I went for my Richard Gear moment.  `But what about Tibet – the human rights abuses there are far worse!’ before being arm wrestled to my seat by my trainer and force fed a bottle of Fijian water.  `Honey you need to re-hydrate!’. 

It was downhill from there really.  So don’t get me started on Fiji (overrated mosquito ridden place – no letters please) or its water.  Save yourself some carbon emissions and leave Fijian water for the Fijians.  They need all the silica they can get. 


I’m fed up with everyone banging on about recycling like it’s the ne plus ultra of green living.  It’s really doing my head in.  In the old days there was a green mantra; `reduce, re-use and recycle,’ but the reduce and reuse bit seems to have been jettisoned. 

Recycling is an extravagant use of resources.  The energy expended to make a glass bottle or plastic cup, using it once then destroying it again to reassemble as exactly the same product is a vastly extravagant use of energy. 

If this wasn’t bad enough, many of our recyclables now get shipped across the world to developing countries where the underpaid labour force, often made up of children, risk their health sorting through our toxic waste mountain for us. 

Even in the dark days when my idea of being green was to buy organic blueberries out of season from Tesco I was always rubbish Nazi.  It was heaven living in Davos, Switzerland, which has a satisfyingly draconian method of dealing with rubbish.  No, not a firing squad for those lazy people who recycle envelopes with plastic windows without removing the plastic first, but by making it illegal to throw away rubbish in anything but special bags costing 1 SF.  It was a real incentive to avoid over packaged stuff and compost leftovers.

And although people feel a warm ready brek glow as they fill the boot of their cars with old bottles and papers and drive down to the bottle bank, an unknown quantity will end up in landfill. 

For while 80% of people recycle at least one type of waste regularly a paltry 11% actually buy recycled products.  This means there just isn’t the market for much of what we diligently recycle.  To make our public spiritedness worthwhile it’s vital to close the recycling loop by buying as many recycled products as possible. 

Kitchen paper, toilet roll, envelopes and computer copy paper, for example, are now easy to buy.  Although it’s important to look after our bottoms, we don’t need to use virgin pulp paper on them.  The recycled stuff does the job just as effectively and it certainly won’t give you haemorrhoids, as an anally retentive commentator pointed out on national television last week. 

To close your recycling loop buy recycled glass products, vintage/second hand clothes, and buy furniture from auctions to save the carbon emissions and environmental toxins created from making new furniture.  

Ebay is very eco friendly, giving people hours of pleasure while keeping our useless junk endlessly circulating and out of landfill. 

If you can’t sell something give it away on the innovative site www.freecycle.org , a worldwide organisation that puts people and unwanted stuff in touch with each other, again saving it being sent to landfill.    

This is a great idea, but luckily my saintly cleaner Mrs Pippolata saves me the trouble as she’s a one woman freecycle outlet and happily takes everything off my hands.  I suspect she has her own `retail outlets’ – or maybe she’s sticking it all on eBay too. 

I don’t want to put you off recycling but just to put the emphasis on reducing and re using what we have first. 



London launch of global campaign to end the cruel long distance transport of animals

A global campaign backed by the world’s leading animal charities is calling for an end to the long distance transport of live animals for slaughter.  The Handle with Care coalition has released shocking new undercover film footage of the global traffic in live animals and is calling on governments worldwide to bring an end to this trade.   

The coalition includes all the leading UK-based animal welfare charities: the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA and the International League for the Protection of Horses.

The film shows how farm animals are being routinely shipped around the world in overcrowded and filthy conditions, on journeys that can take several weeks. Every day thousands of cattle, sheep and pigs die en route from disease, hunger and stress.  

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Campaigns Director Leah Garcés said: “British people are growing increasingly concerned with the way animals are treated and I am sure they will be horrified by the cruelty and suffering that can clearly be seen in this new undercover film.”

“We were determined to show people the truth of this hidden and brutal traffic in animals – if you see it for yourself – you just know it must be stopped.”

In Europe thousands of horses suffer in crowded conditions on illegal journeys of up to 36 hours from Spain to Italy to be slaughtered for meat.

Compassion in World Farming Chief Executive Philip Lymbery said: “The cruelty these animals endure is completely unacceptable in the 21st century. This trade is one in which millions of animals suffer cruel and unnecessary journeys each year.  It must stop.”

Speaking on behalf of the International League for the Protection of Horses, Jo White said: “Long distance transport for slaughter is the biggest single abuse of horses in Europe, with around 100,000 involved in the trade.  The ILPH is committed to ending this unnecessary suffering and with the review of EU legislation next year, urges the public to demonstrate its objection to this inhumane trade as a matter or urgency.”

RSPCA spokesman David Bowles said:  "The long distance transport of animals is an emotive issue and one that people care passionately about. The RSPCA is urging everyone to support this campaign so that we can stop this cruel and unnecessary trade."

The transport of chilled and frozen meat has been going on for more than 125 years, yet millions of cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and other animals still suffer and thousands die while being transported unnecessarily long distances each year - just to be slaughtered on arrival.

The coalition urges people to see the evidence at handlewithcare.tv and add their name to a letter of protest which calls on governments to stop the cruel and unnecessary long distance transport of animals for slaughter.  I urge you to watch the film, although much of the footage is too shocking to watch; animals beaten, kicked, dragged by the legs and even thrown off the side of lorries, nothing will change until we take action. 

It is barbaric that in the 21st century animals are being treated this way.  Some of the more hellish routes are sheep being transported from Australia to the Middle East, cattle from Brazil to Lebanon, horses from Spain to Italy and pigs from Canada to Hawaii.  If we are going to eat meat animals should be slaughtered close to where they are reared and the meat refrigerated and then transported. 

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