A no-no to plastic water bottles

No more distribution of plastic water bottles at Ketchum festivals

KETCHUM, Idaho – Take a plastic bottle of water to a festival in Ketchum? You bet. But buy a bottle of water there? Not a chance.

The city council in Ketchum, located at the base of the Sun Valley ski area, has banned both sale and distribution of single-use plastic water battles at city events and on city property.

Nina Jonas

Nina Jonas

In doing so, Ketchum follows the paths of a variety of other jurisdictions in the United States. Fourteen national parks and the cities of San Francisco and Concord, Mass., have banned sale of single-use plastic water bottles in the parks and throughout the cities. New York, Seattle, and Chicago have denied use of government funds to buy bottled water.

Ketchum’s ban was instigated by Mayor Nina Jonas. She tells Mountain Town News that she was moved to take action after observing a couple of festivals held in the Ketchum town square this summer. “Within just a couple of minutes the bins were just spilling over with single-use water bottles,” she reports.

Jonas sees recycling as only a partial answer. Nationally, the rate of recycling has slipped, according to a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency. Consumption must be curbed as a counter to the hyper-consumptive disposable marketplace, says Jonas.

She said that the city will be seeking vendors to provide water for reusable water bottles.

Jonas said she won’t push for a ban on plastic bags from grocery and other stores, as many mountain towns have now done. That would, she says, intrude into the private market.

Ketchum’s policy is inverse that of Aspen. It bans distribution of plastic grocery bags but only frowns on distribution of disposable water bottles. However, the city recognizes that many visitors may not have their own water bottle and there are no fountains in the parks, says community relations director Mitzi Rapkin. As such, there is no ban.

The resolution adopted by the Ketchum City Council cited the following justifications for the bottle ban:

  • The city’s comprehensive plan states a goal of reducing the amount of solid waste being generated;
  • Plastic water bottles rarely get recycled, with up to 80 percent ending up in landfills. Those outside of landfills take an average 450 years to decompose.
  • Producing disposable plastic bottles requires 17 million barrels of crude oil a year and, along with distribution, emits greenhouse gases;
  • 40 percent of bottled water comes from municipal water systems, and Ketchum’s tap water is “clean, safe and tastes wonderful. It also comes from local sources and is not imported from unknown destinations.”

About Allen Best

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
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One Response to A no-no to plastic water bottles

  1. Sweetie Marbury says:

    Smart idea for a municipal government who cares about recycling and bulging landfills.

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