Are There Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles?

The Three Rivers Park District, which runs a series of awesome parks from Hanover to Prior Lake, plans to vote on whether they should to stop selling bottled water at the parks. As you might imagine, the parks offer drinking fountains at their buildings, and many have additional drinking fountains and pumps throughout the parks, so there is little chance of someone dying from thirst to the lack of water distributed in plastic bottles.

Apparently, the board is somewhat divided on this issue, as the StarTribune coverage explains. For example, the following quote from one of the commissioners left me scratching my head.

Commissioner Mark Haggerty is skeptical of the idea. “I don’t like government and I don’t like being told what to do,” he said. “I don’t think we should stop selling plastic bottled water until we have an alternative.”

Until we have an alternative to plastic bottles? Really?

Looking at Commissioner Haggerty’s photo on the Three Rivers site, I get the impression that he grew up in a time before plastic bottled water was sold in parks (I did too, and Haggery appears to be older than me), considering that the bottles were invented for soda in 1967 and didn’t become popular for retail water sales until much later (Perrier got rolling in 1977 with glass bottles).

I hope Commissioner Haggerty puts what’s best for the parks first in his decision making on this issue. Our parks will be cleaner for people using them today and well into the future if they’re not littered with plastic bottles. By selling bottled water in the parks, the parks are essentially enabling non-decomposable litter.

Three Rivers Park District’s mission is “[T]o promote environmental stewardship through recreation and education in a natural resources-based park system.” Environmental stewardship and parks selling plastic bottled water don’t mix.

If Commissioner Haggerty, as an elected government official, is truly anti-government (that really is what he’s quoted as saying) perhaps he’d also see the appeal of the government getting out of the retail bottled water business. One could make the case that the park district’s sale of bottled water is cutting into the profits of local businesses near the parks, so the government should get out of retail sales of water and leave that to nearby Holiday Gas Stations and SuperAmericas.

Strange arguments lead to strange counterarguments.

Of course, if Commissioner Haggerty is really really anti-government (as an elected official) he may also be against government supplied water in the form of drinking fountains, water bottle refilling stations, or water pumps. Socialist water never helped anyone (except those who drank it because they were thirsty).

All of this makes me wonder what sources of water Commssioner Haggerty relies upon for his own needs.

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