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And A Little Town Shall Lead Them: Bundadoon Bans The Bottle

Did you hear the news? Finally, a government led by the people has stood up and said “no” to plastic water bottles and the environmental degradation they cause. And may I say, it’s about time.

The small town of Bundanoon in New South Wales Australia voted last week to officially ban the sale of plastic water bottles from within the cities limits. The 350 residents who turned out to vote (a record by some accounts) agreed almost unanimously with two residents voting no; a gentlemen worried that the ban would increase soda usage, and another resident who just so happens to be a member of the plastic water bottle industry (shocking, no?).

This is huge. Not because of all the “As Bundanoon goes so goes the world” bumper stickers that everyone has seen all these years. And not because this, as a single act, will impact the water bottle industry all that much. But simply because this small group of people stood up and said, this isn’t ok with us anymore, and we’re not going to put up with it. It’s a huge start and as an indication, the town has been inundated by reporters and tourists seeking more information, and perhaps wanting to be a part of the start of the end.

OK. I just read back on all of that and I’m all over the place, so I’m grabbing a glass of tap water (dear lord, not tap water), taking a few deep breaths and I’ll be back in a minute.

There we go, and my apologies, it’s just that I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a while and am so psyched that it has occurred in a town such a Bundanoon. You see, contrary to what you might think, it’s not a town of Uber Hippies looking to drop out, but of ordinary every day citizens who got upset when a Sydney based beverage company announced plans to tap an underground aquifer, siphon off their water, bottle it, and then potentially sell it back to them down the road.

The great thing is that they didn’t just do this and hope everybody was ok with it. Instead, they looked at the establishments in town that would lose revenue and came up with a solution. Instead of selling bottled water, they’d sell reusable containers that can be filled up around town for free or for a small fee, at filtered stations in certain stores. So essentially, they had everything to gain, and not much to lose.

While Bundanoon is a small example of what needs to be done, we can look at them and realize that we are all in the same boat. Is someone tapping the water you are paying 1000 times more than tap water for and then selling it back to you? Most likely not, but having said that, they are tapping someone’s water somewhere and that makes you responsible. Not only for the plastic and all the problems associated with the bottles, but for depleting someone else’s water source so you can buy something that for a good many of us reading this, comes into our house practically free and clean. Today it’s Fiji, tomorrow it’s Pittsburgh.

As always, I’ll head a few folks off at the pass and point out that I am only speaking to those of us who live in residences that have clean running water. If you are looking at this piece on your computer, chances are better than not that this means you.

So is it going to take a multinational corporation buying up our water rights for us to stand up and say enough? Or should we all stand up now, join in with Bundanoon and just say no. I know where I stand.

Finally, if you think this won’t have an impact, the government of New South Wales has just announced their own plans to stem the sale of plastic water bottles. Let the ripples begin.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the life of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy, build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Senator Robert F. Kennedy

 

Dave Chameides is a filmmaker and environmental educator. His website and newsletter are designed to inspire thought and dialogue on environmental solutions and revolve around the idea that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. �Give people the facts, and they�ll do the right thing.”

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Dave Chameides

Dave Chameides is a filmmaker and environmental educator. His website and newsletter are designed to inspire thought and dialogue on environmental solutions and revolve around the idea that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. "Give people the facts, and they'll choose to do the right thing."

24 comments

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12:31AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:22AM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

Thanks for the info.

4:28AM PST on Feb 7, 2010

Now to get every city with clean drinking water to do the same ...

1:09PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

i'm so glad to see you highlighting this story! i live in california and we've suffered from a multi-year drought. you probably saw on fox news that sean hannity wants to blame fish for this. the local farmers are having trouble getting enough water for their crops and the rivers are mighty low.

what no one on fox mentioned was that a nestle bottling plant had been trying to negotiate for some of this water for about 2 years. they tried a couple different cities and have given up for the moment. watch your water people! at least the fish aren't bottling your city's water up to slap a fancy label on it and sell it to celebrities!

12:58PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

Hi, Charles Temm....yea, I too want to know why this bold move is "meaningless"?I think it is awesome and would love to see it repeated ad infinitum.I think plastic bags should be next.the reason this is meaningful to me is it helps get plastic out of the solid waste stream...not all plastic bottles,etc. get recycled.I read in a couple different places that there is a flotilla out on the northern Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Gyre....I think that is what it is called,Great Northern Pacific?? something like that....this flotilla is made up of plastics floating in the ocean.First I read it is the size of Texas,then I read it is the size of 2 states of Texas.What is the truth about this floating pollution,I am not sure but it exists in some form.I stopped buying bottled water long ago of any kind...no plastic bottles of any kind.The Sigg water bottles are great....any time less plastic is use is very meaningful.I make an effort to assess any packaging to make sure it is recyclable or I don't buy it.

1:11PM PDT on Jul 27, 2009

I should add that I really prefer the taste of water from glass bottles or my metal reusable bottle. But I think it would work wonders to ban soda in plastic bottles. Afterall, what did people do before they had them? Probably drank a lot less of the stuff since it was more inconvenient. And their waistline thanked them for it!

12:34PM PDT on Jul 27, 2009

Well it all sounds well and good to ban plastic water bottles, but what about soda and other "junk" drinks? Bottled water is the healthiest of the drinks that come in plastic bottles, so why ban water and not soda or other sugary drinks?

I use a filter at home and usually refill my own water bottle. But if I'm out somewhere, and don't have my own bottle, should I be forced to buy soda instead of water? And let's face it, a lot of tap water taste awful and/or is fluoridated, and people don't want to drink it. Plus, as someone mentioned, the water may be clean but the pipes are another problem. In my old apt, the water sometimes came out rusted! Would I drink that? Even with a filter? Not on your life.

So before everyone jumps on the bandwagon about banning plastic water bottles, we need to think of alternatives. How about banning soft drinks in plastic bottles to discourage drinking that? What about improving the plastic and making it easier to recycle, or better yet, reuse like glass?

To me, banning plastic water bottles only discourages people from drinking water, which is healthy, while a blind eye is turned to other beverages in plastic bottle. People consume more soda, energy drinks and whatever than water.

8:57PM PDT on Jul 26, 2009

In Japan too, there used to be water fountains in every station and also in the street, but now you can't find them anymore. So I carry a reusable plastic bottle that I fill at home or at friends, and sometimes in the public toilets too. Does someone know the reason for their disappearance around the world ? What are homeless people supposed to do ? Before drinking water was freely accessible to each and everyone in most developped countries.
Anyway, yes, like everybody else, I knew about Bandanoon and am very pleased this could be the start of something big.

1:52PM PDT on Jul 23, 2009

I think bottled water should really only be available for use in emergency situations or in areas that don't have access to clean water. Otherwise it is a very wasteful and expensive habit! I have a reusable bottle and tap is good enough for me, though water fountains seem less prevalent than I remember. When I come across one, it is often broken down. Then I have to fill my bottle in public restrooms, which I am not sure is very sanitary (I run the water for a ten seconds before I fill it). Does anybody else notice that water fountains are disappearing?

12:22AM PDT on Jul 23, 2009

I live in on the coast of Lake Erie. The water was fine and my faucet filter was sufficient for improving the taste until someone in our local government decided that we could improve our dental health by getting dosed with flouride every day. This was only 5 years ago, years after other people STOPPED flouridating their municipal water supplies. So until someone invents a home filter that removes it, I don't know what else to do. (I still think someone got some kind of "kick-back" out of it, but that's just my theory.)

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