x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Not a drop to drink

Water is a precious resource – but would you drink the sweat from somebody else's T-shirt?

As anybody who has visited an upscale supermarket knows, water is never just water. It's mountain water, spring water, oasis water, island water, tropical water, Arctic water - or anything else that sounds exotic - and it comes in a plethora of brands and fancy bottles.

While basic bottled drinking water is price-controlled in the UAE, some people are prepared to pay a premium for something seemingly more desirable. All-important is the provenance of the product: water from the island paradise of Fiji or the crystal-clear, ice-fed streams of Finland has a cachet that desalinated seawater simply does not.

But what if the water was made from the sweat of someone's body as collected by their clothing? That is what's on offer in Sweden, thanks to a machine designed by engineer Andreas Hammar, who says one T-shirt can create a mouthful of water purer than that from a household tap.

Sadly, the machine is not practical; it was designed for Unicef to draw attention to the 780 million people worldwide who lack access to safe drinking water. For us in the UAE, it should also serve as a reminder that water resources are finite and dwindling, and that conserving this precious resource is not an option, it's a necessity.