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Kristin Urquiza ’03: activism on tap


Kristin Urquiza ’03 has a thirst for national parks. From the drenched slopes of Mount Rainier (average annual snowfall: 635 inches) to the scorching Grand Canyon desert, Urquiza and her fellow activists want national parks to stop selling bottled water, instead peddling inexpensive reusable bottles that visitors can fill with free tap water.

Last week, Corporate Accountability International—the watchdog group where Urquiza directs the Think Outside the Bottle campaign—and some 150 other organizations launched a petition drive aimed at national parks directors across the country. Since then, both Mount Rainier and Golden Gate National Recreation Area “have committed to seeking approval” to halt water sales, Urquiza says in an e-mail. News outlets from San Francisco to Philadelphia are covering the campaign, with the Philadelphia Inquirer editorializing this week in favor of a ban.

Why pick on bottled water? It’s not just the empties littering the landscape (although the Grand Canyon National Park has reduced its waste stream by 20 percent and its recycling costs by 30 percent by banning H2O sales, the Utne Reader reports). Pumping water from lakes or aquifers, packaging it in plastic, and trucking it around the country has larger environmental costs.

The bottled water industry bit back with a press release contending that cutting off water sales would “force consumers to choose less healthy drink options  that have more packaging, more additives  (e.g., sugar, caffeine), and greater environmental impacts.” Time will tell whose argument holds more water.

Filed under Kristin Urquiza, Think Outside the Bottle, bottled water, national parks
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