Environmental Protection

National Parks Reduce Waste by Nearly 1/3 and Promote Tap Water for Earth Day

For Earth Day, the National Park Service (NPS) released a status report on its Green Parks Plan. The report found parks have diverted 28 percent of municipal solid waste since 2007 thanks in part to a growing number of parks halting the sale of bottled water.

Parks are celebrating their progress with clean-ups and a "tap water challenge" at the Grand Canyon - a blind taste test for park-goers pitting bottled water against the tap. Volunteers organized additional challenges today at Liberty Bell Center, Golden Gate National Recreation Center, and in Seattle. The challenge helps to educate the public that the tap is more highly regulated than bottled water and far more eco-friendly.

The NPS Branch Chief of Sustainable Operations and Climate Change has noted how parks are forced to deal with the burden of bottled water waste with taxpayer dollars. And prior to phasing out bottled water last year, the Grand Canyon found plastic bottles accounted for 20 percent of its overall waste stream, or more than 500 tons of waste annually in just one of our national parks.

"Eliminating the sale of water in disposable packaging within Grand Canyon National Park is in the best interests of both park resources and park visitors," said Dave Uberuaga, superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park. "Grand Canyon's decision to think outside the bottle has helped clear a trail for fellow parks to follow."

From Zion in Utah to Hawaii Volcanoes, at least 14 parks out of 403 park "units" have already given bottled water the boot. Reusable bottles have proven a lucrative revenue source for some concessionaires, while new hydration stations have ensured visitors remain hydrated even in desert parks like Saguaro in Arizona.

And thanks to support from a growing network led by Corporate Accountability International of more than 40,000 park-goers and 150 businesses, organizations and luminaries, Golden Gate and Mount Rainier National Park are considering joining their ranks.

 

By going bottled-water free, parks are helping NPS reach its waste-reduction goals outlined in the Green Parks Plan. These parks are joining a larger national movement led by Corporate Accountability International's Think Outside the Bottle campaign which has supported states, cities, universities, businesses, and nearly one in five adults in switching from bottled water to the tap.

The organization's success has saved millions of taxpayer dollars, significantly reduced the industry's environmental impact, and brought vital attention to the need to reinvest in public water systems long maligned by bottled-water industry marketing.

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