A town meeting in Concord, Massachusetts recently voted in favour of banning bottled water from 1 January. Here Huw Kingston from Bundanoon, Australia – the first town in the world to go bottled-water-free – offers encouragement.
The town meeting in April voted to ban bottled water at the urging of 82-year-old Jean Hill. Ms Hill began her campaign after a grandson told her about a vast area of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. Town officials say a ban would be hard to enforce, and want advice from the state’s attorney general. The bottled water industry has threatened to sue, if the ban is put into effect
Hello all Concord residents.
I write to you from Bundanoon, a small town in Australia, a couple of hours south of Sydney. Some of you may know that last year we became the first town in the world to stop selling bottled water. We called our initiative Bundy On Tap.
Last year I had the idea for the town to voluntarily give up the sale of bottled water. We had a well-informed community, given that we’d been fighting a water extraction plant for some years (a company wanted to truck 50 million litres a year from our aquifer to Sydney to stick in plastic bottles and then truck it around the country).
Almost 12 months ago, we held a community meeting to look at how we could do it. It turned into the largest community meeting ever in our small town and resulted in a 355 to 1 vote in favour of getting rid of bottled water. We did this by convincing the local stores that they’d do better without bottled water. That the sale of refillable bottles, the increased tourism and increased support (by way of dollars across the counter) from the local community would more than make up for any loss of revenue.
Our plan was to make public drinking water more available than ever before.
We did this by installing four beautiful refill stations and water fountains across the town, including one at our local primary school. Also, many businesses installed chilled, filtered water units in their stores, cafes etc. Bundanoon officially went bottled-water-free on 26 September last year, on a day of great celebration for all ages. We ran bottled-water-free events such as our big Scottish festival, with 15,000 visitors. Free water was on hand from "water bars" at the festival and from mobile backpacks dispensing chilled water to fill people’s bottles or from paper cups. So easy.
Next Tuesday, 6 July, we gather again in our community hall for an anniversary party to celebrate a huge year for our small town. We will tell stories from around the world. Of the Facebook Page in Belgium with 3,000 members supporting a plan to make "I Bundanoon" a verb. Of school children in France learning of Bundanoon in their school books. Of the last bottles of bottled water from Bundanoon turning up for sale on eBay. We’ll raise a glass of beautiful Bundy on Tap to Jean Hill and all you Concord residents.
I’m sure you’ve got the bottle Concord. Go for it.
This post is also available in: Spanish