Cities across the US – including Los Angeles - have banned the ubiquitous plastic bags handed out by grocery stores and other retail stores, and now one courageous town may start the ball rolling on plastic water bottles.
Although more than 90 universities such as Brown, Cornell, Harvard and Princeton, have restricted or banned sales of water bottles on campus, Concord, Massachusetts is the first city to do so.
Its new law, which went into effect on January 1, prohibits the sale of single-use water bottles - any bottle that's 34 ounces or less.
The town manager will enforce the law and will first give a warning to establishments that violate it, followed by a $25 fine, and then $50 fines for further infractions.
Local activists working with Ban the Bottle have been worknig for about three years on the ban (which businesses opposed) to reduce non-biodegradable waste as well as unnecessary fossil fuel use that leads to further greenhouse gas emissions.
Other concerns include the impacts of squeezing water from aquifers for the bottled water industry and chemicals such as antimony (which causes health problems that range from dizziness and depression to nausea and vomiting), that are found in plastic bottles.
A record 9 billion gallons of bottled water sold in the U.S. in 2011, in an industry that's growing 5.4% a year, reports Bloomberg. That consumes 17 million barrels of oil, enough to fuel 1.3 cars.
Americans recycle only a minority of water bottles - about 23% - sending over 38 billion bottles a year to landfills or incinerators, but much of that ends up in the ocean.
Back in 2009, North Carolina became the first state to ban plastic water bottles from landfills, along with motor oil filters and wood pallets.
A bunch of companies recently joined to replace petroleum-based PET with 100% plant-based PET for a wide range of products, including Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, H.J. Heinz, Nike, and Procter & Gamble.
Learn about Ban the Bottle, which campuses have banned water bottles and current campaigns: