Take back the tap petition wants to ban bottled water

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A Vancouver woman wants to put a stop to the sale of bottled water in the city.

Kelly Newton is hoping her Change.org petition, now with over 5000 signatures, will garner enough support to convince the City of Vancouver to shut down sales of bottled water, citing environmental costs and the high quality of our region’s tap water.

“When you ditch disposable bottled water, you save money, live healthier, and join a movement for global sustainability,” Newton writes in her petition.

With over three million plastic bottles ending up in Metro Vancouver landfills per year, there is little doubt the environmental impact of drinking bottled water is severe, and it doesn’t begin when the bottle is thrown out.

From manufacturing and shipping the bottles around the world, tonnes of fossil fuels are created, then the plastic is often left to degrade in land fills and other areas, leaking toxins into watersheds and soil.

Though the bottled water industry wants customers to justify the extra trash with perceived added health benefits, facts show there is little basis to their claim. Recent backlash against water brands like Dasani and Aquafina revealed that 25 per cent of bottled water is simply treated municipal tap water. Moreover, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency only inspects bottled water plants every three years on average while our region’s tap water is tested over 30,000 times a year.

Image: Government of B.C.

SEE ALSO: Vancouver Park Board approves Stanley Park Causeway bike lanes

Newton also notes the money that can be saved if people stop purchasing bottled water. While a 500ml bottle may cost around $2 in Vancouver, tap water only runs at $0.80 a litre.

With all the reasons for switching to tap water, Newton cites a few communities that have done just that.

“New York City’s Fashion Week, Chez Panisse, the city of San Francisco and Grand Canyon National Park have all reduced or eliminated bottled water! AVEDA teamed up with New York’s Department of Environmental Protection during Fashion Week 2010 to provide free drinking fountains on the streets of New York,” she writes.

She also makes mention of a First Nation near Lillooet, B.C. that has banned the sale of bottled water in an attempt to highlight the need for safe drinking water in indigenous communities.

And Metro Vancouver’s water is more than safe; it is the purest drinking water in the world. Water is collected from snow melt and rain in three large reservoirs; Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam, and then filtered to removed particulates, organic matter and micro-organisms. Through filtration, less chlorine is needed to maintain water quality. Water treated at the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant and Coquitlam Water Treatment Plant also uses UV disinfection.

Vancouver Desi reports that while Green Party councillor Adriane Carr agrees with Newton’s petition, she doesn’t know how much can be done at the municipal level to ban bottled water: “It’s not a possibility under our Vancouver Charter for us to ban the sale of (plastic) water bottles,” she said.

The site also notes that Green Party park commissioner Michael Wiebe plans to propose ending the sale of bottled water at park board facilities, such as park concession stands, and instead sell reusable water bottles that could be filled at nearby stations. He also acknowledges that the board currently has a contract with Coca-Cola, proprietor of Dasani water, so the transition would take time.

Whether Newton will get her way is currently unknown, but her efforts mark an ongoing trend in the support of tap water. She will need 7,500 supporters to sign her petition before she takes it to Vancouver council.

Fast facts about plastic water bottles:

  • Americans now drink more bottled water than milk or beer, at an average of 30 gallons per person per year.
  • In recent tests, bottled water was found to be no safer than tap water
  • It takes three times as much water to make the water bottle than it does to fill it
  • Plastic water bottles take over 1000 years to biodegrade
  • Concentrations of contaminants such as arsenic, bromide, bacteria and lead have been found in bottled water samples
  • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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