Concerned by the environmental impact of water bottles, the 2,500 villagers of Bundanoon have now banned the sale of bottled water. This might make them the first community in the world to do so. More than 350 residents went to the polls, with only two people voting against the ban – including a representative from the bottled water industry, BBC reports citing ABC news. Even the local stores supported the vote. Visitors won’t get punished for breaking the ban, but they will be “encouraged to fill a reusable container from water fountains in the main street.” Neat!
The vote was initiated in response to plans by a beverage company to tap a local underground reservoir, fill the bottles in Sydney, and then bring them back to Bundanoon in order to sell them. Confronted on a personal level by the absurdity of the proposal, the villagers realized what kind of environmental impact bottled water has and decided not to support the plans. The move inspired Nathan Rees, Premier of New South Wales, who advised all government departments to stop buying bottled water and using tap water instead. Nice move!
I believe the villagers of Bundanoon have set an example that will hopefully soon be followed by other communities around the world. The impact of bottled water on health and the environment is tremendous. The glass bottle industry in many countries is ripe for innovation in the manufacturing, packaging, recycling, and refilling stages. Similarly, chemicals added to plastic bottles are increasingly being absorbed by humans, plastic debris is being ingested by animals, and plastic in landfills is adding harmful chemicals to groundwater.
A compromise to banning bottled water altogether is to further develop and market biodegradable bottles, come up with less harmful forms of plastic, and improve both plastic and glass bottle recycling. Companies like Phoenix-based ENSO are already offering bottles that are biodegradable in aerobic (compost) and anaerobic (landfill) environments. Leaving no harmful materials behind and being recyclable with standard PET bottles, the bottles offer a sustainable alternative based on clean technology.
It’s time to move bottled water onto the center stage, drive consumer behavior change and agree on metrics to reduce the environmental impact of bottled water worldwide. Wouldn’t it be nice if the G8 agreed on that…?!
[photo credit: Flickr]