National Park Service ends policy encouraging parks to ban plastic water bottle sales (The Hill)

The National Park Service has ended a policy encouraging national parks to end the sale of plastic disposable water bottles that was aimed at reducing pollution and plastic waste.

In a statement, the NPS said they were lifting the policy to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks.”

“While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods,” acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds said in the statement.

I find the arguments against bottled water to be pretty compelling in general, but I think Trump is in the right on this one. Symbolic legislation has its place, but this is the government making bottled water less accessible where it’s most useful. Most bottled water is consumed around the house, where people can really come up with alternate arrangements (such as tap and filter) easily enough. Even those used outside the home are in places where there is a degree of flexibility waiting for the next water fountain. On the other hand, national parks tend to be places where you’re most likely to be concerned with hydration. You don’t want to stand in the way of people and their water because they forgot their bottle.

The policy formulation strikes me as “Bottled water is bad” and “We have control over the national parks” therefore “We should ban bottled water there.” Which is true, true, and false.


Category: Newsroom

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Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

10 Responses to True and True Make False

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    This is a common failure mode of activist thinking; taking 2 related true statements and assuming a third actually follows logically follows from that, when it only follows ideologically.

  2. There’s also the fact that some (how many? I don’t know) reuse water bottles. Maybe a nalgene is better, but it’s not as if one is required to dispose of plastic bottles when one is finished.

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    An alternative would be to sell reusable water bottles at national parks, in addition to having free places to fill them.

  4. fillyjonk says:

    the question with selling refillable bottles – how clean are they? I’ve never bought a refillable bottle I didn’t wash out with soap and water (and rinse well) before using, out of fear of residual crap from the manufacturing.

    I dunno, I agree with the idea of “putting extra steps between people and water in this case is probably not wise.” Many hiking/camping enthusiasts already have their own gear and will use the refilling stations, but for the folks who don’t have that, it does seem kind of over the top to ban water bottles.

    Also, in emergency situations: I keep bottled water on hand and slowly cycle through it because we’ve had several boil orders in recent years, and there’s a non-zero chance some disaster could render tap water non-potable. 90% of the time I use tap, but I like having the bottled there in case of emergency. (And the way my sinks are set up, filling something like a carboy would be v. difficult)

  5. trumwill says:

    They do sell refillable bottles, but they seem to be gift shop item sorts of things. If they sold cheap plastic ones, it would probably have the same ecological concerns as just selling water bottles.

  6. Dr X says:

    I’d be okay either way, but lean slightly toward safety of readily available bottled water.

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