April 22, 2013

Ripley Hill Road resident Adriana Cohen explains why she's in favor of repealing Concord's bottled water bylaw at annual Town Meeting.

To the Editor,

I am a member of Concord Residents for Consumer Choice (CRCC), a coalition of Concord conservationists and consumer choice advocates who believe in having the liberty to buy legal, safe products without government interference or penalty. I am a recycler, a tap water drinker and a bottled water drinker. Believe it or not, this is not a contradiction.

Bottled water and tap water can and should co-exist. Neither the government nor the private sector should have an exclusively monopoly on the water supply. Hence the reason we have anti-monopoly laws in this country. Giving either sector a monopoly on water simply affords too much control and power over the masses as water is a life critical resource. Remember that our Constitution was founded on the premise of Checks and Balances. There is no balance if the government controls the water supply exclusively. Therefore, banning the private sector from selling water is not only setting a bad precedent and is clearly anti-Capitalism, it's also a path to Socialism.

Political implications aside, it’s important that people know that CRCC is not anti-environment. Far from it. We’re a group of Concord residents from diverse backgrounds all concerned about the unintended consequences we see this ban having in our community. As a mother, one of my biggest concerns is that it’s pushing kids and public at large to toward sugary drinks. At schools, vending machines and other food establishments around town, I want my children and the public to be able to choose healthy, sugar-free water. What’s more, the sugary drinks people are picking up at convenience stores, restaurants and elsewhere actually have a higher environmental impact than bottled water because they are bottled in heavier plastics and go through more stages of production. Have you ever compared the plastic content between a Gartorade and a Poland Springs bottle?

Additionally, businesses in town are also now circumventing the bylaw and selling bottled water in glass, boxes or larger plastic sized bottles not forbidden by the ban. The fact is, the ban is causing a mass consumer shift to other products in the marketplace whose packaging are worse for the environment by carrying a heavier carbon footprint than light-weighted single-serve bottled water. That's the reality the "banners" don't want to acknowledge because it doesn't fit in with their "We're saving the planet!" pie-in-the-sky narrative.

In lieu of a counter productive ban, I'd like to see more people making sustainable choices like buying local, increasing recycling education, flying less  and carpooling. I know we can get there – with public education and true community collaboration. This bylaw is not the answer. That’s why I’m voting to repeal it.

Adriana Cohen
Ripley Hill Road