“Think outside the bottle” was the message an environmental coalition shared Wednesday morning in San Francisco in its pitch to get the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Yosemite National Park to ditch bottled water.
San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu joined representatives from the Sierra Club and the group Corporate Accountability International at Crissy Field this morning to urge the National Park Service to ban the sale of plastic water bottles in those two parks.
Instead, they are asking the parks to offer more water stations where visitors can fill up their reusable bottles with tap water, and to offer reusable bottles for sale at park gift shops.
Two oversize postcards addressed to National Park Service Superintendents Frank Dean and Don Neubacher were on display at today’s news conference. The postcards had about 40,000 signatures from Bay Area business, community and nonprofit leaders, and individual supporters.
The cards asked for the parks to adopt policies like that of the Grand Canyon, which has gone bottled-water-free.
Chiu said it is primarily the bottled water industry that is benefiting from the sale of bottled water in Yosemite and the GGNRA.
“I think we can do better,” Chiu said. “We’ve known for years plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment.”
With the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, Chiu also announced plans to introduce legislation to prohibit sales of single-use plastic water bottles on city property, including at large events such as Outside Lands at Golden Gate Park.
Michelle Myers, executive director of the Sierra Club’s Bay Chapter, said selling bottled water in national parks “sends the wrong message about our national priorities.”
David Haskell, president of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s Zero Waste Committee, said plastic bottles “come at the peril of our environment.”
“We do not want to see the commoditization of a human right—water,” he said.
Hanna Saltzman, a spokeswoman for Corporate Accountability International, said GGNRA and Yosemite officials have been receptive to the idea of getting rid of plastic water bottles.
National Park Service spokesman Howard Levitt said officials have met with the environmental coalition and shared plans for continued sustainability at parks.
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“Conservation is an everyday thing for us. We are committed to reducing the waste stream,” Levitt said. “We’ve made some pretty major inroads.”
At John Muir Woods National Park in Marin County, plastic bottles are no longer sold at concession areas, and the GGNRA is likely to follow suit after an analysis and study about eliminating the sale of bottles, Levitt said.
He said the park service has a “multifaceted” approach to conservation and reducing plastic bottles is part of that.
“We will ultimately not have any plastic water bottles at the park,” he said.
The American Beverage Association responded this afternoon to the coalition’s call to eliminate sales of plastic water bottles.
“People should have the choice to decide how they drink water in a National Park—from a bottle of water, from a water fountain or from a refillable container,” association officials said in a statement.
The group contended, “Many Americans appreciate the convenience and portability of bottled water and water beverages.”
The statement noted the beverage industry promotes recycling and “green” bottling practices.
Report: Sasha Lekach, Bay City News Poll: Eve Batey, SF Appeal