GGNRA mulls plastic water bottle ban

April 4, 2013

Park officials at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area said they are interested in banning the sale of plastic water bottles in the 75,000-acres of preserved land, following a campaign by environmentalists to change the way people drink water in national parks.

Last week, a coalition of environmental groups called on the GGNRA to, “Think Outside the Bottle,” in a public event featuring representatives from the Sierra Club, Corporate Accountability International and the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu.

The effort follows growing criticism of prolific consumer use of plastic water bottles and the damage they cause, particularly to marine wildlife as the waste makes its way into waterways. San Francisco is considering a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles at events on city-owned property, and 14 national parks have officially banned the sale of plastic water bottles in their concessions, too.

“We really hope to see national parks commit to phasing out the sale of bottled water,” said Corporate Accountability International Spokesperson Hanna Saltzman. “Parks such as the Grand Canyon and Zion have already banned the bottle and we hope that GGNRA will join the ranks of these parks and become a national leader.”

Visitors at Grand Canyon National Park refill their water bottles at one of the park's many water stations. Photo: Grand Canyon NPS/Flickr.
Visitors at Grand Canyon National Park refill their water bottles at one of the park’s many water stations. Photo: Grand Canyon NPS/Flickr.

GGNRA spokesperson Howard Levitt  said that while the park is already highly sustainable, there is room for improvement.

“For several years there has been an extensive waste reduction system in place at Muir Woods, including the sale of reusable water containers over plastic bottles,” Levitt said.  “It’s probably one of the most sustainable food concessions in the national park system and is the standard we set for ourselves.”

Of course, who but the American Beverage Association would be against it.

“People should have the choice to decide how they drink water in a national park – from a bottle of water, from a water fountain or from a refillable container,” said the ABA in a prepared statement. “While making that choice, they should also be educated on the benefits of recycling and ways to do so.”

While all plastic bottles sold within GGNRA concessions are recyclable, Muir Woods Cafe’ has opted to go bottleless and instead, offers visitors refillable, compostable cups.

But Levitt said the park district is committed to sustainability across all the park lands in its jurisdiction and over the next few months will begin a process to phase out bottled water.

“To make this a reality we need to do extensive research to ensure the adequate infrastructure is in place and raise public awareness about the changes,” he said. “Then we can get to a point where bottled water will no longer be sold.”

Alessandra Bergamin is an editorial intern at Bay Nature. 


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