Our national parks are drowning in a rising tide of plastic waste. Single-use disposable plastic bottles are the single biggest component of national park waste streams. They are damaging human health and our environment with disproportionate impacts on low-income and communities of color.
Mountains of plastic bottles burden wildlife, create greenhouse gases, and cost taxpayers to haul away. As crowds return to record levels following the pandemic, a tsunami of plastic waste will again swamp our parks.
Some major parks, like Grand Canyon, went bottle-free after building water “filling stations.” But the International Bottled Water Association snuffed this nascent bottle-free movement out. They successfully lobbied the Trump administration to bar any park superintendent from restricting the sale of plastic water bottles – no exceptions.
This industry-sponsored restriction should not only be rescinded but also completely reversed by eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles in all parks. By ensuring there are adequate sources of free potable water available for park visitors and outlawing sales of plastic water bottles at all national parks, we can cut discarded plastics by 75%. Our national parks can set a “green” example and encourage all public lands and the planet take a break from plastic.