Thursday, July 9, 2009

News from Down Under - No Bottled Water for You!

So, after my hiatus resulting from the recent addition to my family, I'm back. And just in time for an interesting little story from down under.

The environmental impact of bottled water has been an issue discussed for some time among those concerned with water and environmental conservation. Recently however the issue has gone rather more mainstream, with a number of local governments and municipalities taking action to encourage the use of public water supplies instead of bottled water.

Thus far, those efforts have largely been restricted to ad campaigns touting the advantages of tap water and resolutions that government entities will no longer purchase bottled water for their employees (and at least one university that won't sell bottled water in campus stores). Until yesterday that is.

The small town of Bundanoon in New South Wales Australia has become what is possibly the first public jurisdiction in the world to ban the sale of bottled water within its borders.

Now, it must be noted that the water bottling industry is not particularly popular in Bundanoon. A Sydney-based beverage company apparently tried to set up a water extraction plant in the town - something that was not appreciated by the locals. It should also be noted that the ban carries no penalties and is being adhered to voluntarily by local shops. Nevertheless, it is an interesting development highlighting spreading awareness of the criticisms that have been leveled at bottled water.

It is also reminiscent of similar recent actions that have been taken to ban plastic grocery bags here in the United States, including the not quite successful effort in my home city of Philadelphia.

So ... will Bundanoon go down in history as the turning point for the battle against the bottled water industry? Probably not. Which is unfortunate, because the name of the town is just so appealing. Imagine the rallying cry, "Remember Bundanoon!"

On a more serious note however, Bundanoon's decision - which was carried by an almost unanimous vote - is one more example of the gathering movement across the world to legislatively act to conserve the environment. While laws to protect the environment are nothing new, the current movement is provocative because it is happening on a local level. If this movement becomes widespread, it may effectively dilute the ability of industry groups to oppose it through lobbying efforts (imagine trying to lobby every town and borough council in the United States, or even a significant number of them). It will be interesting to see how this issue play out over the coming months and years. Until then...

Remember Bundanoon! (I just couldn't resist)