Independence Hall, once at the heart of our battle for liberty, now stands at the center of the fight over public water access. Think Outside the Bottle, a campaign of Corporate Accountability International, is seeking to completely rid Independence Hall National Historical Park of disposable water bottles, encouraging the use of public water systems instead.
The campaign, part of a nationwide effort to limit non-reusable water bottle use in our nation’s parks, has supporters in both the environmental and consumer rights camps. Environmentalists cheer the campaign’s emphasis on reusable water containers and commitment to waste reduction – in some parks, more than 20 percent of the waste stream is composed solely of plastic bottles. Consumer rights groups see the grassroots effort as essential to limiting corporate control of water and increasing public access to safe, free public water from the tap. It is no coincidence that Coca-Cola Co., bottler of DASANI water, is one of the campaign’s largest corporate opponents.
Because of bureaucratic guidelines, the decision to go bottle-free is made on a park-by-park basis. Fourteen parks, including Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, have already made the step to ditch plastic. Independence Hall administrators have yet to publicly comment on the matter, but have so far been receptive to public opinion on the issue, including a March 27 protest in which Think Outside the Bottle presented park management with a 3x5 ft postcard bearing the names of over 1000 residents and 50 local residents supportive of the campaign.