Think Outside the Bottle campaign works to make Independence Hall bottle-free

On March 27 protestors gathered at Independence Hall National Historic Park. | Photo from Think Outside the Bottle

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.

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CitiesAlive: Annual green roof and wall conference comes to Philadelphia

CitiesAlive, the only conference series in North America dedicated to green roof and wall industries, is in Philadelphia this week. This year’s four-day conference, “Restoring Urban Waters,” hosted by the industry association Green Roofs and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, will look at how green roofs and walls are part of Philadelphia’s plan to revitalize the city’s waters. The conference will feature education sessions, panel discussions, a trade show, demonstrations of the latest science and technologies, as well as tours of the city’s green roofs and walls.   

With so many innovative green projects and programs already underway, Philadelphia was an obvious choice for the 2011 conference. “Philadelphia is one of a few cities in the United States which has decided to rely upon urban greening as the fundamental, if not primary approach to addressing compliance with the Clean Water Act,” says Charlie Miller, founder of Roofscapes (now Roofmeadow), a Philadelphia-based green roof company.  

In addition to the small-scale greening initiatives, like farmer’s markets and composting services, our city features the tallest green building in America (Comcast Center) and Pennsylvania’s largest green roof on an existing building (45,000 square feet at PECO’s Center City headquarters). And then, there’s Green City, Clean Waters, the innovative multi-billion dollar, 25-year plan Philadelphia has adopted to restore water quality within the city.

Along with keynote speakers from Philadelphia’s water and environment sector, the conference will feature specific sessions on the city’s green transformation (December 1) and a case study of PECO’s green roof (December 2). Other highlights include tours of Philadelphia’s green spaces, technical sessions where industry experts will speak on policy, design, and research topics, and an all-day trade show. Green Roof Professional courses will be offered as well as the accreditation exam (separate registration is required). 

Anyone can register to attend the conference and there are several options, including two attendance packages and a student discount. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel (201 N. 17th St.). To register visit the conference website.

- Anna Louise Neiger

Dispatch: Money Down the Drain - How I learned to say goodbye to half-hour showers.

I distinctly recall my sister pulling back the shower curtain and telling me that my dad was seconds from exploding. I was in elementary school and had developed a habit of falling asleep in the shower every morning—staying in there for easily half an hour. I used to stay up all night knowing I could get some extra sleep in the shower. I’ve never been a morning person, so I switched to taking nighttime showers. That worked until I got to college.

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Cruisin' for a Brewsin': Pennsylvania’s booming craft beer industry is built on the state’s fresh, mineral-rich water. That resource is in jeopardy.

Until Prohibition, Philadelphia was known far and wide as one of the biggest beer-producing cities in America. After repeal… well, you probably know the rest. Smaller, independent breweries folded by the dozen, while mega-breweries like Anheuser-Busch and Miller flourished, delivering quantity over quality.

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Stepping on the Gas: West Philly dynamo/water activist Iris Marie Bloom leads the local charge against environmentally irresponsible drilling.

Iris Marie Bloom is busy. Seriously busy. The night before we meet near her West Philadelphia home, she was in Warminster, screening a documentary and organizing residents. Three days before, she was at a rally in Harrisburg. As we talk, she occasionally checks the time; she has another interview that morning, and after that, her weekly radio show.

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From The Editor: Water Works

It’s thrilling to see the Philadelphia Water Department taking aggressive, progressive action to solve the city’s stormwater woes. Faced with a system in crisis, they came up with “Green City, Clean Waters,” a solution that favors rain barrels, grassy sidewalks and tree pits over the construction of yet another massive tunnel. “The hardest thing to do is to reverse the trend of creating a concrete barrier to nature,” says Joanne Dahme, the Water Department’s general manager of public affairs. This is a triumph of good design.
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Cover Story: Senior Project

A group of retirees in Germantown take water safety into their own hands
by Natalie Hope McDonald

The group of senior citizens dipping test tubes into the Wissahickon Creek has their work cut out for them. As members of the Senior Environment Corps (SEC), a volunteer organization housed at Center in the Park—an active adult community on Germantown Avenue—these volunteer men and women are environmental watchdogs.

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Feature: High Water

Dare to keep drugs out of your drinking water
by Shaun Bailey

It's an otherwise slow shift at the hospital when, just after 2 p.m., patient John Doe is wheeled into the emergency department. After taking the man's vital signs, residents determine he has suffered a "myocardial infarction"; what doctors call a heart attack. With no time to spare, they order intravenous nitroglycerine for improved blood pressure, norepinephrine for shock and heavy, repeated doses of morphine for pain.

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Book Review: Unquenchable

Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It
by Robert Glennon
Island Press, $27.95

Unquenchable begins with the story of one of the most obvious and ostentatious wastes of water in America: Las Vegas. A gleaming, neon-bedecked homage to decadence in the middle of the desert, Vegas is a testament to our ability to build what we want, where we want regardless of any mitigating circumstances. There are private lakes, gigantic fountains and water parks—all in the middle of the desert.
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Simplify: 3 Easy Ways to Live Greener

Fluid Needs

Make your water cooler

At first glance, the office water cooler looks innocuous, especially if you forego the dumpster-bound plastic cup and refill your (Philadelphia Phillies, 2008 World Champions) glass instead. However, there’s one key wasteful component unaccounted for: energy consumption. Yup, those heavy jugs need to be manufactured and then carted around town by big trucks—and they aren’t running on hydrogen. That’s where a bottleless water filtration system, which taps into your existing water line, comes in. The water is purified on the spot, and you might be surprised to learn that tap water quality is regulated, unlike bottled water. For over 22 years, our neighbors in Mount Laurel, NJ Arctic Coolers ( have offered this service. Oh, and it seems to save money, too.

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