Massachusetts Town Votes to Ban the Sale of Bottled Water

Last week residents in Concord, MA voted to ban the sale of plastic water bottles in their municipality as of next January, which could make it the first town in the U.S. to make such a move.

The vote has environmentalists excited, while the $10 billion industry is worried other towns will follow suit. More than 100 towns across the U.S. have prohibited spending city dollars on the product, all in a worldwide effort to reduce plastic in landfills and waterways and reduce greenhouse gases.

The International Bottled Water Association issued a statement threatening a “legal challenge” comparing bottled water to other products, such as cleaning supplies, food and other beverages. Their argument is that they shouldn’t be singled out for producing a wasteful product when everyone else is doing it too.

“Any efforts to discourage consumers from drinking water, whether tap water or bottled water, is not in the best interests of consumers. Bottled water is a very healthy, safe, convenient product that consumers use to stay hydrated,” said Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association.

That’s true, of course, but a ban on bottled water doesn’t necessarily mean people will drink less of it, it just means they will have to be more conscientious about their drinking habits.

The convenience of throw-away products, like bottled water, are causing many environmental problems.

Jean Hill, an 82-year-old activist working on the ban, used the Pacific Gyre to help illustrate the amount of pollution plastic bottles are contributing to. The great garbage patch floating in the ocean was impressively horrifying enough to sway some votes.

Hill also used a study by the Container Recycling Institute, which found 88 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled, at the rate of 30 million a day, along with the using the fact that bottled water is not redeemable, unlike soda and other drink bottles, which could discourage people from recycling.

In the U.S. alone, 60 million plastic bottles a day are manufactured, producing massive greenhouse gases, then transported and thrown away, leaching synthetic chemicals into the earth. According to the Food and Water Watch, when all is said and done producing and distributing bottled water uses up to 2,000 times the amount of energy used to produce tap water.

Millions of gallons of fuel are used transporting filtered tap water across the U.S. and around the world. Three times as much water is used to make a bottle than is used to fill it.

In March 1999, the Natural Resources Defense Council report, “Bottled Water, Pure Drink or Pure Hype?” revealed that as much as 40 percent of all bottled water comes from a city water system, just like tap water. Federal regulations also don’t require bottled water to be any better than tap water, and FDA standards don’t apply to water that’s bottled and sold in the same state.

While it’s unclear whether the town will be able to legally uphold the ban, it’s clear that  home filtering systems and reusable containers are far healthier for us and our environment.

It’s also unclear whether Boston’s “aquapocalypse” that left some 2 million people in the area without drinkable water when a water main broke shortly after the vote will have anyone changing their minds about the ban.

However, Hill still has no doubts about the decision and points out that people can easily keep stored water jugs for such an emergency. 

creative commons


Michele J.
Michele Jones5 years ago

How ignorant. Why not just make it illegal to not recycle plastic bottles?? Instead they get rid of a convenient drinking water source?? Wow.

Veronica C.
Veronica C5 years ago

People have a cell phone in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. I can't see them giving up either.

Steve N.
Steve N5 years ago

Fortunately, the ban never took place. What sense does it make to ban bottled water, yet still sell bottled soda, juice and milk?

Gail Lynch
Gail Lynch5 years ago

My comment to you was genuine. The other part of my comment was actually addressed to a certain person that posted a comment. I did not want to specify, because I did not want to offend that certain person by name.

Gail Lynch
Gail Lynch5 years ago

Thanks Joe! I absolutely agree. If there was no bottled water, that "choice" would have never been available to some folks posting here. So, your argument of someone robbing you of choices and rights are moot. Why would someone want a choice to pollute and rob someone (two legged, and four legged) of fresh water that they need for living? How ridiculous!

Gail Lynch
Gail Lynch5 years ago

Now this is good news. If there is one habit that I hope becomes contagious, it's this habit to stop the sale of bottled water. If people just used the calculator, and added up their receipts from buying bottled water, they will see that a home water filter on the kitchen sink faucet is ten times less expensive and will not be adding to the problems we have with the environment. The important issue is saying that those corporations who are foolish enough to think that they can charge a fortune for the use of clean, portable water are mistaken. For those people in charge of buying up all water source and controlling our need for water, it's one bad move over many bad moves.

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold5 years ago

Concord/Lexington might have be the first shot/location of the war, but that was a fight for freedom from tyranny. Now they are using that tyranny they fought against to tell people what the can/can't do. Does that make much sense? Will the people go out of town to buy it? Who will police their homes for the bottles?

Temperance Ropple

I am against ANYTHING that takes away my freedom to choose. The alternative is to educate and then leave it up to everyone's consciousness to do what is right. Floride was developed during WWII as a componet of nerve gas. It calcifies the pineal gland and is not good at any level. ANY chemical introduced into the human biology that it is not born with will eventually show up as some sort of disease. So whichever way you look at it, your choice will provide some people with jobs and incomes. You just have to make the best choice.

Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago


Joe H.
Joe H.6 years ago

There is a great food crisis of 2011 click this link to read about it on page 2 last paragraph and page 3 1st 2 paragraphs it talks about "aquifer depletion" if you just let companies like Nestle Waters put in bore holes to rape the aquifer for corporate greed you will be adding to this problem. People need to quit buying unnecessary bottled water for lazy consumption. It makes tons of plastic waste and a giant carbon foot print due to the trucking involved in transporting the product to the lazy customers. There's nothing healthy or pure about polluting the planet with all this plastic packaging just get off your lazy asses and fill a reusable metal water bottle and take that with you when you need to go mobile.