Massachusetts Town Becomes America’s First Bottled Water-Free City

Multiple campaigns and products have been launched to curb our obsession with plastic water bottles. There are reusable water bottles in all shapes and sizes, made out of everything from glass to stainless steel. There are home filtration system that make your water taste better than anything in a bottle. Still, there’s no better way to keep this toxic waste from clogging up our streets and landfills than making them impossible to buy.

On January 1st, Concord, Mass., became the first town in America to ban the sale of single-serving PET water bottles of one liter or less.  For this town’s 18,000 residents, selling a beverage in a plastic bottle will earn a warning, followed by $25 for second offense and $50 for any beyond that.

water bottles, bottled water, plastic bottles, plastic waste, Concord, Massachusetts

Image via stevendepolo/Flickr

Created under the guise of convenience and better health, the plastic water bottle has become the poster child for wastefulness and environmental destruction. Despite the sheer futility of paying good money for tap water in a single serving bottle, Americans practically beg beverage companies to continue this highway robbery. In 2011, total bottled water sales in the U.S. hit 9.1 billion gallons — 29.2 gallons of bottled water per person, according to sales figures from Beverage Marketing Corp.

84-year-old Concord resident Jean Hill was so bothered by this mindless consumption that she decided to take action. For three long years, Hill campaigned among her friends and neighbors. The state’s attorney general initially shot down the proposed ban, but on Wednesday signed off after it was revised last year and it was approved last April by town residents in a 403-364 vote.

Bottled beverage companies are already threatening a lawsuit, waxing quite poetic about this so-called “restriction of freedom”.

“We are exploring all available options,” the Virginia-based International Bottled Water Association said in a statement. “This ban deprives residents of the option to choose their choice of beverage and visitors, who come to this birthplace of American independence, a basic freedom gifted to them by the actions in this town more than 200 years ago,” the group added, noting Concord’s place in U.S. history. “It will also deprive the town of needed tax revenue and harm local businesses that rely on bottled water sales.”

What do you think? Would you support a bottled water ban in your town? Tell us in the comments!

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

    • phor11

      Does Concord have a curbside recycling program in place?
      Do they have recycling receptacles in public places?

      A flat out ban seems like a huge over-reach to me.

    • http://twitter.com/baustinf BenAustin

      This is a fantastic idea. For too long Americans have been obsessed with buying bottled water and then throwing it out with no remorse or understanding of the effect it has on the environment. Even though it’s only a small step needed in a much larger overhaul of our way of life I would most certainly support a ban here in Denver. Recycling just isn’t as strong of a statement as an all out ban. The people in this country think we have to ween ourselves from things with fossil fuels but truthfully we just need a stern kick in the rear to really get our act together.

    • marius

      I think its a good action, in germany we have returnable bottles for years and it works very well, rhis may be an alternative to completely taken bottles from thearket

    • http://twitter.com/GoodGreenGuru Good Green Guru

      I would favor selling single serving water in glass reusable, returnable bottles with a deposit

    • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.sitlerphd Andrea Sitler

      I live on bottled water. I think a ban is wrong. Implementing a good recycling program is what should occur. I don’t support the glass reusable idea any longer due to all the diseases out there. Not everything can be “washed off” and not every facility processes their bottles properly. Not a fan of eating or drinking after anyone in which I did not wash the dish/silverware. I choose my restaurants very carefully due to this factor. If we ban bottled water, than we are back to people buying soda or possibly juice, which is often cost prohibitive. I think we need to keep water options and especially the flavored ones. Soda, juice and so on all need recycling. This is the push we should be making.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Notsokoolaid Andrea Marie

      Finally somewhere in America is taking action to banning plastic water bottles. Plastic is terrible for not only the environment, but our health. Plastic is full of toxins, like BPA and dioxins, which both lead to cancer and birth defects. Why wouldn’t you want to carry around a reusable water bottle that can be filled with fresh filtered water that tastes so much better, than guzzle down plastic infested water. Studies have shown it takes 17 million barrels of oil per year to make just the U.S. water bottles alone, which equals enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year !!!! Wake up America, its time for change !!!!!