The Water Hostage Release Project started as an actual, practical, change-of-habit physical gesture, on November 12th, 2010. I was in Montréal on sabbatical leave, living on Rue Laurier very near the mountain. My main goal for the sabbatical was to write a book on Post-Structuralist Ethics (which I eventually did), but I was so easily sidetracked. My girlfriend, Helge and I would go for a walk almost every day up the mountain.
Up on the Mont Royal mountain was where I began The Water Hostage Release Project.
Something that had ALWAYS bugged me was bottled water. I understand the need for bottled water where tap water is not potable. I also know individuals who, for a variety of health reasons, can only drink bottled water. Fine. But what about the rest of us chumps? If our tap water is potable, we are living the high life compared to zillions of people on the planet; many even in the same province as us. You need water? Fill a recyclable bottle and drink up, buddy.
Exponentially worse, though, is when someone buys a bottle of bottled water, has a sip or two, and throws it away, with the cap on! When I see that I think that we are indeed on the way to the deserved apocalyse. Plastic + potable water that is not, actually, consumed. Rather, it is discarded, stuck inside its little plastic coffin, where, until it is bulldozed on a mountain of garbage at a landfill, the perfectly perfect drinking water will be held hostage. Have you ever had that thought? Have you ever been emboldened beyond just having that misanthropic de-ecological blast of dismay, to do something? I did. It was November 12th, 2010. I had made a solemn pledge to myself that, embarassment and awkwardness notwithstanding... any time I found an abandoned water bottle with drinking water hostaged in it, I would: a) record the data of position, bottling company and amount of water "held" hostage; b) release it back into the water table only when I had found a place that made sense; c) carry the empty plastic bottle until I found a blue recycling bin or box.
It was a very awkward totally personal ecological activist project.
Better than doing nothing, is what I firmly believed. (And still do). So... from 2010 until June 28th, 2019, I kept it up. I had a little booklet. I made notes. Here are some of the notes:
"Saturday, November 26th, 2010. 1:26pm. Corner of Rue Champagneur and Saint Viateur. Evian 500mL bottle. ~ 100mL in bottle. Poured it out on the lawn of people with Christmas lights and red berries in a silver urn."
"Saturday, December 3rd, 2010. Bibliothéque Robert Bourassa. A big NAYA 500mL bottle. Teenagers who were studying, evacuated the study room and left it on the table. ~ 150mL left in it. I poured it outside under a bush."
"January 7th, 2010. Cinéma du Parc. There is a full, unopened bottle of water (500mL, ESKA) at my feet, in the dark. I drank it."