Concord, MA Revokes Bottled Water Ban

Massachusetts bottle water banAs you may recall, in April of last year, the town of Concord, Massachusetts banned the sale of bottled water, making international headlines as the first town in the United States, and maybe even the world, to do so. The ban was set to go into effect in January of this year. However, voters at the annual town meeting, this week, rejected the ban, passing instead a proposal that would educate citizens about bottled water’s environmental impacts. It’s interesting that the vote took place at the beginning of this year’s National Drinking Water Week.

The most probable reason for the ban’s rejection was the citizens’ right to choose bottled water over tap, which is not surprising, considering that Concord is known for being the host of the first battle of the American Revolution. Ironically, however, the voter turnout was very small. Out of the town’s 17,000 citizens, only 537 residents showed up to vote on the issue, which is evidence of the town’s apathy toward both environmentalism and liberty.

Either way, 83-year-old Jean Hill is not giving up. She filed the petition to ban last year, and claims that she’ll be back next year, as well.

By now, it’s clear that we at Filters Fast prefer filtered tap water over bottled water. However, we are also not convinced that an all-out ban is the ultimate solution. In general, most people want to protect their freedom to choose. We have written about the issue of banning bottled water in universities, and this is one of the major reasons why many schools have voted against a ban. What do you think? Should towns and cities ban the sale of bottled water?

Buying bottled water buys freedom?

America is the land of the free, right? Well some might argue differently, in light of recent Homeland Security developments (i.e. airport “security” checks.) The United States officially became free with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s the reason we celebrate the fourth of July every year with fireworks and funnel cakes. It’s the reason why a man walks through an airport “security” check in a speedo with an insulting message written to a certain politician scribbled on his back in bold, black marker, and doesn’t get labeled a terrorist … well, at least… for now.

As we’ve seen in recent controversial media reports over the last few weeks, these “freedoms” we have are precious to us, and if we comply with new procedures in the name of security, safety and comfort, there’s a chance we could lose them. Allow me to call your attention to a recent article published by the BBC: “Bottled Water has Become Liquid Gold.” This piece describes how bottled water rose to a global billion-dollar industry within the last 40 years, because of smart marketing. Through advertising that speaks directly to the human desire for luxury and convenience, this product has become all too appealing. One particular section of this article really got my attention – a quote by Richard Wilk, professor of anthropology at Indiana University:

“I think bottled water is the most revealing substance for showing us how the global capitalist market works today … In a sense, we’re buying choice, we’re buying freedom. That’s the only thing that can explain why you would pay money for a bottle of something that you can otherwise get for free.”

(Now, before I get attacked by the IBWA for referencing an “untrue” statement, we know that even tap water isn’t free. Technically we pay for it when we receive our water bill every month. What Wilk likely means here is, “That’s the only thing that can explain why you would pay ridiculous amounts of extra money for an environmentally-unfriendly, plastic bottle of something that you already pay for every month anyway.”)

That disclaimer aside – and I promise I’m going somewhere with this – Wilk’s quote suggests that people are essentially buying their right to choice and freedom every time they pay money for a bottle of water. In fact, “the right to choose” has been cited in several places as one of the reasons why bottled water should not be banned in colleges and universities. In today’s world, where freedoms and rights seem to be slipping slowly from our grasp with each new security measure, people are even more compelled to stand up and fight to keep them. But the willingness to pay for them isn’t doing much good. If bottled water is a symbol of the success of a capitalist market, buying it is only going to feed that market. And, in my opinion – feel free to debate with me on this – that market, and the greed associated with it, is the very thing that drives the policies that are slowly beginning to restrict our personal freedoms.

Sometimes, fighting for freedom means sacrificing security and comfort. Bottled water is one of the many symbols of security and comfort for those in the developed world, as it sets us apart from the less secure nations that don’t have access to clean water. It’s just a matter of where your priorities lie – with personal freedoms, or with comfort and security. In the name of the freedom upon which this Independent nation was founded, choose to drink filtered tap water, instead of bottled. It’s better for the planet, less expensive, less wasteful, it’s still purified, and you still retain your right to choose (along with preserving your dignity by resisting the temptation to get duped by clever advertising.) Seems like the more sensible decision to me – what do you guys think?

Ecowell: An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Vending Machines

Thanks to students, Brian Boler, Andy Whitaker and Reid Schilperoort, we can now officially say goodbye to vending machines full of plastic bottles. This team of entrepreneurs has managed to make reusable water bottles even more convenient with their recent class-project-turned-business-venture:

Ecowell. A vending kiosk that dispenses hot, cold or carbonated water with a choice of over 20 fruit juice flavors, two sweeteners and five vitamin supplements. This eco-friendly alternative to vending machines allows you to create your own beverage, dispensing it straight into your own reusable Klean Kanteen. None of the fruit juice flavors contain high fructose corn syrup, and the kiosk can dispense any combination of flavors, light or full, depending on your preference. Both of these features allow you to create a healthier beverage than those which are normally available in standard vending machines. Moreover, with Ecowell’s convenient Tap-Tag system, patrons can create an account right at the kiosk and use their Tap-Tag to select and pay for their drinks at each visit. Ecowell is a great invention for office buildings and schools where bottled water and soda are consumed on a regular basis.

Beverages ordered and filled at the Ecowell kiosk are less expensive than the average bottle of water, juice or soda purchased from a conventional vending machine. A 16-oz. cold glass of purified water is $0.55. Add three fruit flavors and pay only $1.50. Considering that a Vitamin Water is usually at least $1.75, and a Snapple beverage can cost around $2.50, students and workers are getting a great deal for a customized, healthy, eco-friendly beverage. For example, instead of buying a Focus Kiwi-Strawberry Vitamin Water, you can simply create your own mix of fruit-flavored water and add the “StudyBoost” vitamin supplement for added focus and retention.

Ecowell truly leaves the consumer with no excuses to drink bottled water. At home, you can make your own flavored water with the PUR flavor options pitcher or PUR faucet mount with flavor options. With the Ecowell kiosk, now you can make your own flavored water and even soda. This new invention might just make more schools consider banning bottled water.