An Oregon County Shuns the Bottle
Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes the city of Portland, took back the tap by passing a resolution prohibiting the purchase of bottled water with county funds. Members of the Multnomah Country Board of Commissioners were unanimous in their decision to ban the bottle. The county even joined Food & Water Watch’s national campaign to Take Back the Tap.
Commissioner Barbara Willer, who led the effort, was motivated by a desire to see the county save money and to protect the environment from unwanted waste and pollution. She punched her point home by reminding people just how costly bottled water can be when she said, “Buying bottled water is more expensive than buying gas.”
The county is very proud of its decision, and they are committed to providing safe drinking water from their public water system, as well as to opposing Nestlé’s bottling presence throughout Oregon.
Former Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine passed a ban on government purchases of bottled water, but that was overturned by current Governor Bob McDonnell. Concord, Massachusetts had a similar idea and voted to ban the bottle by prohibiting the sale of bottled water in their town last spring. Unfortunately, the ban was reversed a month later due to procedural errors in the legislative process. Despite the reversal, the town’s message was heard loud and clear, and their efforts might have served to inspire others.
All of these recent bottled water battles demonstrate that consumers are becoming more aware of bottled water’s carbon footprint and many are taking action. Bottled water companies have seen a decline in sales for the second consecutive year, which could be a sign that the days of the bottle are coming to an end. Consumer education is a critical part of this sea change, and water activists and eco-conscious consumers are playing a major role.
Multnomah’s bottled water ban is rather timely. Approximately 40 miles to the east in the town of Cascade Locks, bottled water opponents, including Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited and Columbia River Keeper, are trying to prevent Nestlé Waters North America from building a water bottling plant around a local spring. Food and Water Watch organizer Julia DeGraw has been at the center of this fight. She is raising awareness of the negative impact of bottled water by educating members of communities throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Food & Water Watch proudly participates in today’s Blog Action Day!