Bottled Water Ban Begins in the United States
BOTTLED WATER BAN BEGINS IN THE UNITED STATES
As the battle over green packaging and environmental issues continue, bottled water has suffered a casualty. The residents of the town of Concord, Massachusetts have voted to ban the sale of single serve PET bottled water. While the intent of the ban can be admired, many have concerns over the actual impact of such a ban. The ban, if upheld, will take effect in January of 2013.
JUST BOTTLED WATER
Many people have wondered why the focus is simply on bottled water and not all beverages sold in plastic bottles. One argument is that, unlike other beverages, water is conveniently available from a tap. Of course the counterargument is that many municipal water sources have been found lacking in the past. And while some bottled waters truly do come from municipal water sources, they are usually run through a filtering system, reverse osmosis or other cleansing process. While the ban on single serving bottled water may be a step in the right direction for the environment and even a much needed step, it does seem to be unfairly biased against one beverage and reeks of removing the freedom of choice from consumers.
HURTING LOCAL BUSINESSES
It would appear that the ban on single serving bottled water applies only to sales in Concord. Therefore, residents who still want bottled water can simply drive outside the town limits and purchase the product. If this is truly how the bylaw is written, the only actual effect it may have is to hamper local business. Stop and think about where you purchase individual servings of bottled water. Gas stations, grocery stores, movie theaters and just about anywhere else you can find a business. Removing an obviously popular product (though maybe not in Concord) from local businesses may very well hurt the sales of non-bottled water products while driving revenue to nearby, out of town business owners.
INDIVIDUAL HEALTH VERSUS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Balancing individual health versus the environmental impact of the ban is a tricky job. Water, arguably bottle or tap, is a healthy part of any diet that keeps a person hydrated. Removing the alternative of bottled water may drive many people to cafeinated drinks, energy drinks or beverages filled with sugar. Though obviously a personal choice, removing a healthy alternative within town limits will have an effect. Also, if this is a first step to be mimicked by other towns and cities across the United States, the effect will be multiplied. Many people drink what is available when they feel a need to quench their thirst. My opinion is more people than not will not take the time to search out a healthy alternative.
On the other hand, reducing the plastic being sent to landfills and recycling plants across the country will undoubtedly have an impact on the health of the planet and the environment, as will reducing the amount of plastic bottles manufactured each year. Only the truly naive believe that the actual plastic bottle is the only impact on the environment.
CAN THE LAW BE UPHELD
Many people are also questioning whether or not the law will even survive until January to be put into action. Does the ban on the sale of bottled water illegally restrict trade? Maybe, maybe not. If the town of Concord, Massachusetts has to go to battle in a courtroom to defend the ban, does it have the money and support to do so? Are there better places where that money could be put to better use? All questions worth debating but also with uncertain answers. All questions that will be answered over the next seven months.
Concord, Massachusetts, the site of the initial battle of the Civil War, has set itself up to be the site of one of the first battles for the environment. Though the town has the right idea, the actual law that represents the first bullet may have been triggered to quickly. The law appears to have flaws which may backfire or, eventually, doom the law itself. Either way, it is a first attempt remedy a situation that has been talked over but seldom acted upon. For that, Concord should be applauded.
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