Town Prepares to Celebrate Going Bottled Water Free

Saturday, 26 September 2009 is a big day for a little town. Bundanoon, 1.5 hours south west of Sydney, will hold the official launch of its initiative to make the quiet village of about 2,500 people, Australia's First Bottled Water Free Town.

As we reported in July, the community turned out for a town meeting, voting 355 to 1 in favour of a proposal to support the town's businesses and events, should they ">withdraw commercial bottled water from sale. It was such an audacious idea that the world's media lapped it up, with the plan getting coverage from the Middle East to Canada, from Ireland to Japan. The concept of a tiny town taking on the behemoth of the beverage industry resonated with people across the globe. Congratulations came pouring in from Qatar and Siberia, from Brazil and the Czech Republic, and everywhere in between. Tomorrow Bundanoon celebrates the last bottled water being sold in the town. But it does more than that. It reinforces the truth in Margaret Mead's oft quoted observation, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

There were many obstacles to reigning in what was initially a rather wild idea. But thoughtful, committed citizens have, together, jumped those hurdles.

Through sponsorship negotiated by environment action group Do Something, Bundanoon will tomorrow officially turn on three high tech, modern water bubblers, and four filtered water stations designed especially for the refilling of reusable drink bottles. These units were donated by Street Furniture Australia, with filters supplied by Culligan Water. Culligan also arranged for the free installation of chilled and filtered water station inside several of the retailers.

The community initiative, known as Bundy on Tap, has also been provided with 2,000 premium drink bottles from hydration company, Camelbak. These bottles, made of BPA free Tritan, plus a budget drink bottle in BPA free polyethylene, were sourced to help retailers offset any sales income lost from electing to not sell commercial bottled water.

Additionally after the initiative was announced, the NSW state government subsequently approved a grant from their Community Economic Development Program to support a follow-up efforts for a Buy Local campaign for the town and surrounding villages. And we should mention that project inspired the NSW state Premier to announce that all government offices would be going bottled water free - once their current contracts expired.

Contrary to some concerns that removing bottled water from sale would drive shoppers to sugary beverages, access to clean, tap water and a means to easily transport it has greatly improved, as a result of this endeavour. Not to mention that the local primary school has received it's own bubbler and refill station, and all the kids have been issued, to their great delight, with new refillable drink bottles.

(Such has been global interest in Bundanoon's bold vision that the Town has been able to secure the Australian Premier of "Tapped." This feature length documentary lifts the lid, (if you'll pardon the pun), on the environmental travesty that is bottled water, and was made by some of the same folk who brought us "Who Killed the Electric Car?" And thanks to sponsorship by green energy companies, Jackgreen Energy and Easy Being Green, the public will be able to see the film for a donation-at-the-door basis. )

See the Bundy On Tap website for full details of what might just be a world first community initiative, as well as information on the launch and the Tapped screening.

Images: Street Furniture Australia, Bundy On Tap, Warren McLaren / INOV8 and Tapped, respectively.
Disclosure: I have been an active participant on the volunteer working group that organised this initiative, so guess my impartiality on this story could be called in to question! But hope that doesn't make it any less worthy.
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Tags: Australia | Conspicuous Consumption | Consumerism | Documentaries | Pollution