Is That a Guilt Floatie in Your Water Bottle?

Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty about drinking water.

It’s not the same sort of gluttonous regret that sinks into my stomach after inhaling a double-double cheeseburger with fries at In-And-Out, nor the same fiscal recklessness I feel when I blow half my measly Guardian paycheck on a pair of cowboy boots — only to realize three days later they give me blisters.

No, my water-drinking guilt has more to do with a phenomenon that has pervaded my thoughts ever since I hauled my ass to college: my consumer conscience.

Some time during my four-year stint at UCSD, I realized that almost every purchase I make somehow contributes to the demise of our planet. For every gallon of gas I pump, an endangered baby seal is clubbed in Alaska. For every page I print of an essay, an acre of redwood trees is annihilated. When I bought my first Russell Brand sweatshirt at the UCSD Bookstore, I was indirectly whipping the back of a Honduran infant for not sewing fast enough.

But the image that most haunts my purchase-induced day terrors is that of a helpless Nemo-esque clownfish being driven from his kelpy wonderland by a colony of Aquafina bottles somewhere in the North Pacific Garbage Patch. No matter how parched my lips, every time I grabbed a bottle of water at the Sunshine Store, my guilt far outweighed the quench.

So, my first step in consumer redemption was to choose the self-proclaimed Mother Teresa of H20: Fiji water. Marketed as the trendy green choice for eco-concerned consumers like myself, it seemed like the least of evils I could turn to in times of thirst.

That is, until I happened upon an investigative article on revealing that, despite the water company’s success (which has secured both Paris Hilton and Barack Obama as consumers), Fijians themselves are suffering from typhoid outbreaks because of the island’s faulty water supplies.

Not to mention, the brand’s edgy square bottles are made of Chinese plastic and cranked out in a diesel-fueled plant polluting some far-off land.

Somehow, in attempting to make a sustainable choice, I’d added Typhoid-ridden Fijians to my list of day terrors. Now I wish I hadn’t lost the trendy Whole Foods canteen my mom got me for Christmas. I’d buy myself another one, but those things are like $25.

Maybe tonight I’ll sacrifice a couple hours locating my long-lost stocking stuffer — if not to prevent spontaneous sunstroke, then to dissolve my thoughts of diseased islanders. And if I can’t find the canteen, maybe I’ll just continue being really, really thirsty all the time. I hear San Diego’s suffering from a pretty severe draught — maybe I can do my part with some good old-fashioned activism in the form of dehydration.