Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And A Little Town Shall Lead Them

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

1 comment:

Paris said...

In my country the problem is different, no one has "tapped" our water source to sell it back to us into plastic bottles.
But the farmers have poisoned it, so it's unsafe to drink anymore, that's why we have to import bottled water from mountains 300 miles away.
As long as France will remain 3rd bigger pesticides consumer in the world, anyone living in farmed plains such as me (Paris) will have to drink mountain bottled water.