Wouldn't Have Happened Without Local ActivistsBack in 2010, we wrote about efforts by citizens of Concord, Mass., to ban the use of plastic water bottles in their city: The effort was lead by Jean Hill, an 82-year old activist, who lobbied neighbors and officials alike on the consequences of plastic bottles filling landfills and polluting local waters. 'All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the oceans that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets,' said Hil.
It has taken a few years for the ban to take effect, but as of January 1st 2013, Concord became among the first U.S. communities to ban single-serving plastic water bottles.
Water bottles might seem like a small thing, but according to Ban the Bottle:
"It takes 17 million barrels of oil per year to make all the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. alone. That's enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year." Their website also states: "In 2007, Americans consumed over 50 billion single serve bottles of water. With a recycling rate of only 23%, over 38 billion bottles end up in landfills."
And it's not like bottled water is a good deal for your wallet either:
"The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400."
The ban isn't exactly 1920s' prohibition, though. Stores will only be fined up to $50 for violating the ban and there an exemption for emergencies. So no government agents busting doors and trying to find the hidden stash of water bottles. But as a way to raise awareness and because most people follow the rules, it should be very effective and significantly reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles in circulation in the area (kind of like how even small 5-cent taxes on disposable plastic bags reduce their use tremendously).
Hopefully this is the beginning of a larger movement that will return bottled water to what it should have stayed: An emergency thing, when you really need water but can't get it any other way. It's ridiculous that it has become an everyday thing for so many people that have access to perfectly fine water for a fraction of the price from their tap (and there are so many great filtering systems out there for those who want to make extra sure -- though it's not like bottled water can't be contaminated either).
Our colleagues at MNN have more on this story: With new bylaw, Concord opens the floodgates for bottled water bans.