I am writing this piece at Gatwick airport where my flight to Reykjavik is delayed by three hours. I treated myself to a chai latte but that made me thirsty.
I visited the ladies room where I found a plastic bottle someone had abandoned (half full). I decided to do the unfashionable thing: I took off the plastic top and rinsed it for several minutes under extremely hot water before wiping it down. Then I filled it up for my flights (destination Newark aiport in New York via Kevlavik in Iceland).
On the Friday evening just before Christmas I was flying from Stansted Airport to Stockholm with my youngest son. I decided to bring my own (long-life metallic) water flask for the trip. This turned into an adventure: the train to Stansted was so packed that we couldn’t even get the bottle up from my backpack.
Then we had to drink all the water really fast because you can’t take water through security. Fortunately there were two of us!
We found some chairs and inevitably got thirsty again. There were plastic bottles of water for sale absolutely everywhere (it is an industry!) but we were determined to use our long-life bottle. I sent my son on a mission to find a drinking fountain – he couldn’t find one. I asked him to guard the bags and took a hike myself: I didn’t find one either.
I asked a member of staff who directed me to the rest rooms. There were only very futuristic taps designed for hand washing. I asked another member of staff who said: go to one of the cafes – they will fill your bottle up for you! I know this because I work there. Right….
People were all queuing for their Friday night beer or glass of wine. The staff looked harassed and worn out, the queues were ten people deep.
I took my flask back to the rest rooms and managed to fill it under one of the very low taps (spilling lots of water). My son was relieved to see me. He had started to wonder if the The Airport Monster had perhaps eaten me.
Some people try to bring their own plastic bottles to the airport but in the stress and collective stripping at security – it is easy to forget there is water in your bottle – so they confiscate it and throw it out. I know that this is for good reason. I also know that we all pay a price for the shadow that 21st century terrorist attacks cast.
We have all seen photographs of beaches awash in plastic bottles and whales which died after eating plastic. How can this collective dystopian dream (trance?), that it is somehow OK to buy water in a plastic bottle every time we travel, continue?!
Do we need to start a campaign to have water fountains and flask filling stations made available at airports?
Access to drinking water is a core human right – is what has always been drilled into me.
And yes, I am well aware that flying too carries a huge carbon footprint. When your job is international – as mine is, it cannot always be avoided or replaced by on-line seminars and classes. As a teacher I know very well that when students or participants are not in the room with you – you can only take them so far. Therefore there is a weighing of costs and benefits when it comes to flying out to teach life changing material. (I am a teacher of shamanism, sacred art and mystery school work).
I know that I carry karmic consequences for the air travel I do but the water bottle situation is inexcusable because there are alternatives. Just as shops don’t automatically provide bags any more (we make a habit of carrying a fold-up long-life bag on our person) I suggest that airports stop selling water bottles but arrange flask filling stations near ( but for reasons of hygiene not in) the public toilets.
Oh and one more thing: instead of receiving a disposable cup every time we buy a hot drink (I stand accused of buying myself a chai latte!!), what about carrying a long-life cup with a lid on our person (same as the long-life bag – it is just a habit really!) so we can rinse out the cup and use it thousands of times?
Imelda Almqvist, 2 February 2018
About the Author:
Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016. She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit – Where ART Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.
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(Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)
Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True
And she presented on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network in both 2016 and 2017