Nearly two dozen national park sites ban plastic water bottle sales

The environmental impact of bottled water is astounding.

For starters, the 50 million plastic bottles that Americans consume yearly uses 50 billion barrels of oil and releases over 25 million tons of greenhouse gases into the global atmosphere. And most of those bottles end up in landfills - or worse still, littering trails and waterways.

Disposable plastic water bottles are the largest single contributor to trash in America's national parks, making up one-third of their solid waste on average, according to a report by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility(PEER). Because the parks service’s goal is to reduce waste by 50% by 2016, reducing bottles is paramount.

This is why almost two dozen national park sites in ten states have banned the sale of plastic water bottles, helping them simultaneously reduce park waste and carbon emissions.

A couple years ago only a few national park sites had adopted bans but there are a total of 23 who now have policies in place.

National parks where water bottles are banned:

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  • Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  • Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  • Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
  • Colorado National Monument, Colorado
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
  • Little Bighorn National Monument, Montana
  • Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana
  • El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico
  • Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico
  • Outer Banks Group, North Carolina
  • Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Oklahoma
  • El Morro National Monument, Puerto Rico
  • Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
  • Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas
  • San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, Texas
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  • Zion National Park, Utah
  • Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah
  • Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments, Utah

This year a few more are expected to be added to the list: Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, Florida’s Biscayne Bay National Park and California’s Golden Gate National Recreational Area, the most heavily visited area managed by the national park service.

“We applaud the more than 20 national parks that have ended the sale of bottled water on park lands, taking a critical step towards reducing waste and sending the message that water, like our parks, is not for sale," said Erin Diaz, director of the Think Outside the Bottle campaign at Corporate Accountability International. The campaign has utilized public advocacy to keep the National Parks Service in line with their goals in spite of corporate pressure.

"Ending sales of plastic bottles in national parks has gotten off to a slow start due to the influence of Coca-Cola, whose Dasani bottled water is one of the top sellers, on top National Park Service officials," reports PEER. "In 2010, just days before a long-planned plastic bottle ban at Grand Canyon National Park was to take effect, NPS Director Jon Jarvis blocked it at the company’s behest. Even more significantly, NPS abandoned its plan to end disposable water product sales in 75 percent of all visitor facilities by 2016."

Outspoken advocates eventually led Jarvis to allow parks to issue bans so long as they conduct a thorough analysis of the impacts of such a policy first. Which just goes to show that the voices of wilderness lovers really do matter.