In the world’s first ban on bottled water, the rural Australian town of Bundanoon pulled all bottled water from its shelves on Saturday, replacing them with refillable bottles instead.
Hundreds of people marched through the tiny town to mark the occasion, unveiling a series of new public drinking fountains as shopkeepers removed the last remaining bottles of water from their shelves, said campaign spokesman John Dee.
The bottled water was replaced with reusable bottles that can be filled from fountains inside the town’s shops or at water stations throughout the city.
“Every bottle today was taken off the shelf and out of the fridges so you can only now buy refillable bottles in shops in Bundanoon,” Dee told the AFP news agency.
The picturesque town voted in July to ban bottled water after a drinks company took steps to tap into a local aquifer for its bottled water business.
“In the process of the campaign against that the local people became educated about the environmental impact of bottled water,” Dee said.
“A local retailer came up with this idea of well why don’t we do something about that and actually stop selling the bottled water and it got a favorable reaction.”
The 2,000-person town, two hours south of Sydney, made international headlines with their move, which Dee said he hoped would encourage communities across the world to take similar action.
“Whilst our politicians grapple with the enormity of dealing with climate change what Bundanoon shows is that at the very local level we can sometimes do things that can surprise ourselves, in terms of our ability to bring about real and measurable change that has a real benefit for the environment,” he said.
The financial savings made the initiative even more compelling, he said.
“I think that’s why this campaign is doing so well, because we’re saying to people you can save money and save the environment at the same time.”
“The alternative doesn’t have a sexy brand, doesn’t have pictures of mountain streams on the front of it, it comes out of your tap.”
Critics of bottled water say the products cause unnecessary use of plastics and fuel for transport. Indeed, the bottled water industry was responsible for releasing some 60,000 tons of greenhouse gases in 2006, according a New South Wales study.
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