Human right to water and bottled water consumption
The notion of a universal right to water offers an interesting paradox because of its uneven and often inequitable global availability and wide-ranging variability in distribution and consumption. Given water’s characteristics as a common pool resource (or commons), the meteoric rise of bottled water as a global business creates a paradox: how can governments ensure that every individual can have access to enough of the vital liquid to survive and thrive without blocking industrial production of packaged water? In this chapter, I examine this paradox through water justice, rights and ethics lenses. I use vignettes from two cases of bottled water usage during extreme circumstances (donations of bottled water during the recent Mexico City earthquake and the production of canned water during Hurricane Harvey in Houston) to highlight the inherent contradictions that accompany the implementation of the human right to water in a context of increasing commodification of the vital liquid.