Bula from Fiji!

After escaping near ‘drowning’ in New Zealand, I am now in Fiji, where heat and humidity welcomed me with open arms. 10 days in Fiji gave me only a very limited time to explore some Fijian health and fitness related topics, but I found a topic, which is dear to me, and I thought, it might give you food for thought.

What springs to mind when you hear Fiji? Probably white sandy beaches, palm trees, maybe even a coconut bra and a straw skirt. But by now you’re probably picturing a square plastic bottle, with a blue lid and a flower on the label – calling itself ‘FIJI WATER’ and promising ‘A TASTE OF PARADISE’. This bottled water is available all over the world, mainly in upmarket shops, in the shelves next to all other known and less known bottled waters from all over the world.

It might take you by surprise that a (U.S. owned) company in this country ships bottled water 10,000 miles around the globe but one third of Fijian don’t have access to safe and clean drinking water. On the South Pacific islands bad water can trigger an outbreak of typhoid and a constant flow of patients laid low by dodgy drinking water is common in hospitals.

Besides the carbon footprint the distribution of any bottled water brings along they also cause an incredible amount of pollution. In fact, a million plastic bottles are disposed of daily and it takes 450 years for one bottle to decompose! It also has been proven, that bottled water vs. tap water isn’t better, in fact, the UK tap water contains fluoride which isn’t available in any of the bottled waters. Check-out the lifecycle of bottled water and the influence on the environment on: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

Don’t get me wrong, so far I was also one of the people, who bought bottled water every now and then, probably mainly out of convenience. Knowing that the bottles are bad for the environment I reused them a few times too, especially when I hit the gym or an outdoor activity. So when I first heard that you shouldn’t reuse plastic bottles as they can have an influence on your health, I thought it’s time to investigate a bit closer into this. And what I found out is pretty shocking: for the lining of food and beverage containers the chemical BPA (bisphenol-A) is used to harden polycarbonate plastics. Plastics with BPA can break down, especially when they are washed, heated or stressed, allowing the chemical to leach into food and water and then enter the human body. BPA mimics the female hormone oestrogen and may affect fertility and promote cancer. And just last year it came out that BPA may also lead to heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.

How can you avoid getting in contact with BPA? Plastic that contains BPA carries the #7 recycling symbol,

so try to avoid those bottles and/or plastic containers. I used to be a serious plastic bottle ‘reuser’ but from now on I will check into what I put my food and drinks into. Although stainless steal bottles with BPA free lining seem to be expensive when you purchase them first, I will definitely invest into a couple of them. In the long run, I can only benefit from it and hopefully it will also help the environment.

If you want to know more about the numbers on recyclable plastic go on http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/images/static/resources/plastic_symbols.pdf

This shouldn’t be a lecture on an environmental issue as I think it’s ones own decision what to do. We can’t possibly fight all current world issues in one go; pollution, extinction of animals, world poverty… But I do believe, that if we start at one point and if it’s solely for a selfish reason, your own health, we can get step by step slowly but surely to a better, fairer and healthier planet. The choice is ours.

My next and last stop on my trip around the world will be British Columbia in Canada.