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National Parks’ Water Bottle Ban Brings Trouble

During the course of the summer, a silent storm has been brewing over the nation’s 50-plus national parks. For decades, discarded water bottles have damaged the topography and grounds of our national parks, costing our parks hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in cleanup efforts.

In order to combat the omnipresence of discarded bottles of water in our national parks, Jonathan Jarvis (Director of the National Park Service) instructed managers of each park to completely stop the sale of bottled water within the grounds.

national parks water bottle ban

As a safe alternative, Jarvis told the parks to sell reusable and durable bottles and to install hydration centers all around the park.Eliminating the sale of bottled water in national parks seems like a change that would come without much opposition. Public funds could be allotted elsewhere now that cleanup isn’t required. The parks themselves are preserved and guaranteed to sustain their current state. The parks also reduce the amount of resources needed to provide drinking water to their patrons.

However, conservation hit a speed bump in the form of the International Bottled Water Association. Bottled water is a 13-billion-dollar industry, and lobbyists revved into action shortly after the new regulations and rules were announced. Though limiting waste and cutting back on bottled water seems like a reasonable plan of action, corporate lobbyists have worked overtime on Capitol Hill to effectively block the bottled water ban altogether.

The IBWA began a smear campaign to paint the ban as a law that would force “sugary drinks” upon patrons as the only alternative to bottled water. Though the parks are providing reusable water bottles, sugary drinks like sodas will still be available in the parks. This fact does raise questions about affordability of the reusable bottles at the parks, but when the alternative is filling our nation’s parks and reserves with plastic debris, it seems less harmful than what the IBWA is depicting.

Jarvis was called to Congress where he was criticized by House Republicans on the effectiveness a bottled water ban would have. The IBWA has spent half a million dollars lobbying members of Congress over the last four years, so even when reducing the production of plastic bottles makes sense to the common citizen, it takes more convincing in Washington.

If “big water” has their way, the pattern of overproduction will continue unabated. Relying on plastic for water consumption leads to excess waste and a less renewable future. There are plenty of alternatives to purchasing plastic water bottles. The next time you visit one of our national or state parks, pack a reusable Pelican Water bottle for a smarter, more environmentally conscious choice. We can’t rely on the national parks to clean themselves up without assistance from citizens. Consider contacting your representatives in Congress to voice your concern about further plastic waste in our national parks.


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