Bottle Ban

Photo courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr Creative Commons

While Congress debated labeling regulations for US bottled water distributors this past Wednesday, residents of a small, rural Australian town made a decidedly bold move: they banned bottled water altogether, opting instead for free fountains and tap H20.

The residents of Bundanoon – known locally as Bundy – banned the bottles in an attempt to stop Norlex Holdings Pty Ltd. from extracting water from a local reservoir. “Residents,” reports the AP, “were furious over the prospect of an outsider taking their water, trucking it up to Sydney for processing and then selling it back to them.”

Approximately 400 people showed up to vote on the ban (in of a town of approximately 2000). Only one person dissented, afraid the ban would encourage people to buy sugary drinks instead.

Bundanoon’s decision is a first worldwide. Nearly 60 cities in the US and several others in Canada and the United Kingdom have voted to stop spending taxpayer money on bottled water used at town meetings and other municipal events. But never has a community banned the sale of bottled water altogether and the decision has many distributors upset. Geoff Parker, director of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute told reporters Thursday, “To take away someone’s right to choose possibly the healthiest option in a shop fridge or a vending machine we think doesn’t embrace common sense.”

The ban will prevent Bundanoon grocery stores, markets, and vending machines from selling bottled water starting in September. Instead, residents of the rural community will carry reusable water bottles with the logo “Bandy on Tap.”

Bundanoonian’s also got support from their local government. Nathan Rees, the New South Wales state premier, announced Thursday that he was banning all government departments and agencies from buying bottled water as well.

According to a study by the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change, the bottled water industry emitted nearly 60,000 metric tones of greenhouse gases in 2006. Since then the situation has only gotten worse: Australians spent nearly $393 million on bottled water last year alone, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.

Just imagine if Americans, who spent nearly $16 billion last year on bottled water, voted for a similar ban? Talk about an environmental and economic (for your own wallet, anyway) stimulus plan. And hey, the water coming out of your tap is just as good, if not better, than the $2 bottle you’re drinking.

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