Bottled Water and philosophy of life

Do we really need Ethics in our business?
March 23, 2010
Food: Lesser of two evils
March 25, 2010

We need to rethink our strategy. In such a situation, there are only three options – ‘fight or flight’ or ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ You can run, but you can’t hide. So might as well, join the fray and add your two cents worth. My advice, pick the good side to fight on. I choose to fight the good fight. I will not give up. By Fareeha Qayoom

By Fareeha Qayoom


esterday morning, my sister and I went to our neighborhood bakery – Gourmet Bakers to pick up a fresh stash of bottled water (Jumbo pack) and breakfast. We had been out for hours and so far, it was proving to be an unproductive day. The Sui Gas people had given us a total wild goose chase but that’s another story. At the workplace, no one had turned up for work yet so I would have to go back when the staff had trickled in to get some work done. That meant loads of extra petrol and few more hours on the road. We had already visited LESCO’s office. The management was not around – from the SDO, XEN, SE etc. Sigh. Needless, to say, I was not in good mood.

Cold Water Is Ready
Photo by Brave Heart

My sister went inside to pick the breakfast while one of the Gourmet servers took care of the bottled water. It was around 11:00 am. The sun was out with a vengeance. The bottled water was lined up under the sun. This was the last straw.

I told the guy to put the bottled water away from the sun, in the shade or if they couldn’t do that, put up an awning over the water, since they have a warning printed on it to keep water under shade at all times. (No, I was polite. Just because I was in a bad mood, didn’t mean I was going to take it out on a stranger). Guess what he told me, “It’s not my problem!” All he had to do was report it. What was the big deal? Apparently, a lot, we have lost all our conscience. Our fellow human beings can die a slow death or quick death. What do we care? It’s not our problem.

Imagine my frustration! You can’t win in this country no matter what you do. You are made to pay through your nose for the privilege of living in it. Given the run around by government servants – don’t forget you pay their salaries, 16 (or is it 17 now?) percent GST on every service you buy plus you pay income tax and various assorted direct taxes that have no name or at least I can’t remember them off hand- you are given the run around by private sector (you buy their products so indirectly you pay their salaries too!), you are underpaid, overworked, individual who has no job security, your job can fold any time given the state of the economy, your country has gone to the dogs, there are wars being fought in your neighboring country and now your country too, you have terrorists killing hundreds of people daily, (God knows what their real agenda is and who is masterminding the whole deal), the absolute last straw is that you can’t even get a decent glass of water without loads of chemicals falling into your water causing cancer! You are paying for clean, safe water! And if you complain to get at least one problem fixed for hundreds of customers who will be buying this product today, the retailer’s representative tells you, ‘not my problem!’  (Where can you go to get a fix? You can join the recruiting office of the Talibans. They house you, feed you and even let you blow yourself up and countless others as well. At least, loads of people will suffer for your death! Try it. It’s a surefire, anger management course! Sorry, excuse my sarcasm. Like I said, I wasn’t having a good day.)

When we got home, we had to contend with hours of unscheduled load-shedding. The electricity came back around 6:00 pm.

These are dangerous times. No wonder we keep praying for deliverance every day. As citizens of Pakistan, should we just give up and die? Today, its March 23rd, an important day in Pakistan’s history. The Indian Muslims decided to get a separate homeland for themselves on this day. They didn’t want to live a deprived and discriminated life in a hostile land because of their religion – guess what?

“Organized Religion” is a dirty word in today’s world. The new world order advocates every man for himself, instant self-gratification, “eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow you die.” Belonging to any organized religion is not on. The only religion allowed is that of Darwin’s theory of evolution; “Survival of the fittest.”

We need to rethink our strategy. In such a situation, there are only three options – ‘fight or flight’ or ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ You can run, but you can’t hide. So might as well, join the fray and add your two cents worth. My advice, pick the good side to fight on. I choose to fight the good fight. I will not give up. As Scarlett said in “Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”

…“Did you think I’d crumble

Did you think I’d lay down and die

Oh no, not I

I will survive”…*

*song by Gloria Gaynor

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.


  1. Adulterated bottled-water case: LHC summons md wasa on April 21

    * PSQCA told to dispose of all bottled water companies’ license renewal applications

    Staff Report

    LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Monday directed the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) managing director to appear in court on April 21.

    The court was hearing a petition against the supply of adulterated bottled water. The WASA regional director submitted a report stating that water from tube-wells was being supplied to the residents of Lahore, but the LHC was not satisfied with the statement, and summoned the managing director.

    The counsel for the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) also informed the court that the applications of different bottled water manufacturing companies, seeking the renewal of their licenses, were pending with the authorities.\03\23\story_23-3-2010_pg13_3

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  2. The chestnuts are our own
    By Kamran Shafi
    Tuesday, 23 Mar, 2010

    So there! We, the POFs and us who live in the area, are literally drinking human excreta! The huge jump in both readings (and the newest of these is fully two years old, mark) is due to the fact that houses and resultant soakage pits are coming up on the Wah hill from which flow the springs.

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  3. WORLD WATER DAY Unsafe Water Kills More than War
    By: Livia Sappington

    March 22, 2010 – World Water Day

    The international observance of World Water Day is a result of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The General Assembly designated the first World Water Day in 1993. Consequently, the UNCED designated 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action. Every year on March 22, the focus has been on a different aspect of freshwater sustainability, including sanitation and water scarcity.

    Water-related issues were to be the focus of the decade long effort since 2005 to achieve some internationally agreed upon goals, part of which are the Millennium Development Goals (MDSs), a poverty reducing agenda created by world leaders in the year 2000. The program focuses on the following:

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  4. Ironically, March 22, 2010 was a World Water day! Funny world – huh? I didn’t know at the time when I told the Gourmet guy off and got no result…

    World Water Day observed in City
    By: Iqtidar Gilani | Published: March 23, 2010

    LAHORE – Like other parts of the globe, International World Water Day was observed across the country on Monday. Theme of World Water Day 2010 was “Water Quality”, under the slogan “Clean Water for a Healthy World”
    WWD serves as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

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  5. Water resources: Vital water
    By Mohammed Niaz
    Sunday, 25 Jul, 2010 | 02:26 AM PST |

    What we do is mirrored in the water, holds true on the pretext that constant unfriendly environmental activity registers its toll ultimately on water resources; the quality and quantity of which reflect human action.

    Water is the absolute life resource on planet earth, which has no substitute unlike other resources, without which no existence can be visualised. Its necessity is diversified in nature as are water related issues associated with health, livestock, sanitation, environment, cities, agriculture, food, industry, and energy production. It is a fact that there will be not as much water in the future as there is today.

    Water quality and management has become one of the leading problems of the 21st century and integral to sustainable development. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, August/September 2002 highlighted five thematic areas including water and sanitation, energy, health, agriculture, biodiversity and sustainability. The Millennium Development Goal 7 being to ensure environment with one of its targets directly linked to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation.

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  6. Water quality: Bottleneck
    By F.H. Mughal
    Sunday, 18 Jul, 2010 | 08:12 AM PST |

    Did you know that 33 out of 63 brands of bottled water available in the country have been declared unsafe for human consumption by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR). Sadly, both the quality of water supplied by water tankers as well as municipal authorities is unsafe, making the public have to decide between the devil and the deep blue sea.

    The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, claimed that water is recognised as a human right. In countries like Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong, drinking-water quality is regularly monitored and reported. However in Pakistan, especially in Sindh, there is no agency that keeps a check on drinking-water quality. The water providers, themselves, fail to do that, since they are aware that the water they are providing is unsafe.

    PCRWR has used 25 water quality parameters for assessing bottled water quality. However, the basis of selecting the specified parameters remains a mystery. It seems like these have been randomly taken from drinking-water guidelines of the World Health Organisation.

    Water bottles are usually made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Antimony trioxide is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of PET. Accordingly, PET contains high levels of antimony, which is a potentially toxic heavy metal. Antimony is leached from water bottles to water and gets dissolves in water. In Japan, PET is manufactured using titanium. Titanium is insoluble and is harmless, unlike potentially toxic antimony.

    Research conducted in Germany showed that, while the water in non-PET bottles was found to contain only two ppt (parts per trillion) of antimony, the PET-bottled water analysis showed antimony levels a few hundred times greater. Typically, high ambient temperatures favour more leaching. Ambient temperatures in the country are relatively higher. It is known to all, how the bottled water is handled, transported and stored in the country. PCRWR should monitor levels of antimony in bottled waters.

    Cryptosporidium and giardia are parasites that exist in water supplies. These parasites can cause intestinal illnesses. While, no guidelines have been set by the WHO, the long shelf-time of bottled water in the country may lead to the contamination by cryptosporidium and giardia species. PCRWR, like the numerous quality-conscious water agencies around the world, should also analyse bottled water quality for these parasites.

    The source of water in many instances, in not known and, is not disclosed by the bottled water companies. It is said that, in some cases, raw surface water is used and is then chlorinated to make it safe. In such cases, it would be necessary to analyse water for carcinogenic chemicals.

    In May 2010, the Pacific Institute, working to advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity, released the book: Bottled and Sold — The story behind our obsession with bottled water.

    Its author and president, Dr Peter Gleick, shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last one hundred years. Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day a thousand more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars of sales.

    The author also investigates industry claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled versus tap water. He also makes an interesting case when he writes, “You don’t find what you don’t look for. This holds true for contaminants in bottled water. One would think and expect that bottled water would be cleaner than our tap water. But is it?”

    PCRWR, in addition to contaminants pointed out above, should also look for contaminants like DDT, benzene, yeast, algae, and particles. While the tap water quality in United States is much better, the worsening tap water quality in Pakistan has allowed people to question who monitors drinking-water quality in Sindh and in other provinces of the country. The reason this question is left unanswered is that the water quality has never been a priority, or even an issue, for the Sindh government.

    What needs dire attention is the quality of drinking-water supplied to schools in Sindh and other parts of the country, where most don’t even get water; as a result of which, the sanitation in schools is critical.

    As Dawn’s editorial of May 9, 2010, questions; “What should the consumers do? Spend millions or even more on the treatment of water-borne diseases?” The answer is: yes, keep on spending millions on the treatment of water-borne diseases until the time, the Sindh government takes concrete and practical action.

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  7. Unsafe drinking water
    EDITORIAL (August 15 2010): At a workshop held in Islamabad, the other day, on “Development of Way forward for Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Improvement” speakers endorsed what is already common knowledge: that most of our drinking water is unsafe for human consumption.

    A report of the findings of a quality testing survey, conducted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), informed the workshop that the Council had collected some 357 samples from different parts of the country, 87 percent of which were found unfit for drinking. 68 percent of the samples had bacteriological contamination, while 24 percent contained unacceptable levels of arsenic, 13 percent nitrate, and five percent of fluoride.

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  8. comment: A source of life — & sometimes death

    The paramount water challenge of development agencies has, for decades, been that of freeing up women and children from the endless grind of fetching water. However, more and more people are gaining access to clean water. Since 1990, 1.6 billion have gained access to safe water. The world will likely even reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set in 2015 to halve the number of people without access to clean water, according to the UN. This is no small feat, and the world should take a moment this World Water Week to celebrate this success, and learn from challenges encountered along the way so that the success can continue beyond 2015. One of those challenges lies in climate change. Growing evidence indicates that water resources will change in both quantity and quality, while water, storm water and wastewater facilities’ infrastructure will face greater risk of damage caused by storms, floods and droughts.

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  9. 29 September 2010 Last updated at 17:01 GMT
    Water map shows billions at risk of ‘water insecurity’
    By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News

    About 80% of the world’s population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis.

    Researchers compiled a composite index of “water threats” that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution.

    The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people.

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  10. Pakistan is not alone…

    Study finds probable carcinogen in tap water of 31 U.S. cities
    By Lyndsey Layton
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, December 20, 2010; 7:47 PM

    A new analysis showing the presence of a probable carcinogen in the tap water of 31 cities across the country has raised questions about possible risks posed to consumers in those communities and how they can reduce their exposure.

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  11. Pakistan among 17 countries facing water shortage
    Monday, 18 April 2011 18:22

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is among 17 countries that are currently facing water shortage, with an estimated 44percent of the population without access to safe drinking water and up to 90% of the population even lacks such access in rural areas.

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