Fight Heating Up Over Bottled Water in Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park has become the latest battleground for the fight over bottled water.

A push from the “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign, which works to educate the public on the disadvantages of plastic water bottles, has turned its sights on bucking plastic bottles from national parks – and specifically banning them from Mount Rainier National Park.

The campaign, which is being spearheaded by Corporate Accountability International, hopes that with critical parks like Mount Rainier making such a commitment against bottled water, the entire national park system could react similarly. The goal of the effort is to have national parks set an example for eliminating unnecessary waste, and promoting the use of reusable water bottles as well as “the region’s high quality tap.”

Kristin Urquiza, Think Outside the Bottle campaign director, said in a statement:

“By retailing and promoting bottled water in our national parks, the bottled water industry is attempting to paint its eco-unfriendly product green. Our national parks are public, ecological trusts, not the bottled water industry’s billboard and concession stand.”

Mount Rainier would be the first park in the Pacific Northwest to go bottled-water-free, and is considered critical by the campaign because it’s iconic, and has always been a leader in sustainability.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has already shot back at the initiative with it’s own statement saying that bottled water serves as a healthy alternative for consumers on-the-go to sugary drinks like soda.

They argue that access to bottled water is a key component of promoting healthy hydration - which should not necessarily be discouraged - and suggested that IBWA would be “pleased to engage in additional conversations...about ways in which we might be able to work together on recycling initiatives.”

Emily Rich, an organizer with Think Outside the Bottle, says this is just another example of the bottled water industry trying to falsely promote their product as green.

“We need to send the right message that water, like our parks, are not for sale,” says Rich.

Mount Rainier National Park superintendent Randy King also released a statement saying he supports the campaign’s goal, and is already working to install water bottle fill stations to make it easy for visitors to reduce and reuse. There are also plans to work with the concessions services at Mount Rainier to provide low-cost, reusable water bottles around the park.

“After refill stations and low-cost water bottles are in place, we’ll complete the analysis necessary to make a decision on the sale of bottled water in the park,” King says in his statement.

 
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