In honor of World Water Day, let's celebrate an action recently taken by a national park that should properly be interpreted as a boon to environmentally friendly water consumption.
Proponents of the right to buy whatever single-serve packaged beverage they damn well please have long argued that eliminating bottled water from vending machines will force the public to instead buy high-calorie drinks, which have a bigger environmental footprint than does bottled water. (This shift in buying behavior hasn’t yet been proven; but yes, for the record, bottled water does have a lower carbon footprint than bottled sodas, juices, or teas.)
But Saguaro National Park, just east of Tucson, has thrown the baby out with the bathwater: officials there have announced that the park will quit selling not only bottled water, but sodas as well – a decision that should eliminate up to 40 percent of the park's recyclable waste stream. (Remember: recycling, good; reducing consumption, even better.)
Take that, Grand Canyon National Park (which recently banned the sale of bottled water -- but not sodas -- after a huge kerfuffle with Coca-Cola, maker of Dasani water and a $13-million donor to the National Park Foundation). Like that park and Zion National Park, in Utah, Saguaro will be installing hydration stations -- those contraptions formerly known as "water fountains" -- for filling reusable bottles.
If parks in some of the hottest, driest areas of the nation can take this step without fear of losing visitors to either disenchantment or dehydration, what’s stopping all the others?