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Vermont Governor Bucks Bottled Water
BOSTON, MA - March 22 - Governor Shumlin of Vermont today announced a commitment to phase-out taxpayer spending on bottled water. Across the country, local establishments that daily serve elected leaders are joining a campaign encouraging their lawmakers to follow Vermont’s lead and vote the tap, beginning by kicking bottled water out of the statehouse.
“To be spending taxpayer dollars during a time like this on bottled water, when state and local governments deliver high quality tap water to nearly every household, sends the wrong message about our commitment to the tap,” said Governor Shumlin. “My Administration is committed to ensuring no more dollars go down the drain when the future of Vermont’s public water systems requires our attention.”
Each year, state governments from California to Maine spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on bottled water as the national investment gap for the tap deepens – it is now $23 billion annually. Today establishments in Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington hosted events touting the benefits of going bottled water free and advising their governors to follow suit.
“If the tap is good enough for Oregon’s residents, businesses, and institutions, it should be good enough for those responsible for funding it,” said Donna Earley, Director of Sales & Marketing of the Salem Convention Center, whose dedication to green practices helped move them to promote and use the tap over the bottle, in Salem, OR. “And with the bottles out we can again focus on reinvesting in the tap as an engine for economic development and the backbone of public health.”
162 local businesses throughout the country, including Nina’s Coffee Café in St. Paul, MN, Free State Press in Annapolis, MD and Black Eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues in Hartford, CT, have signed on to support Corporate Accountability International’s Think Outside the Bottle campaign, which aims to promote, protect and ensure public funding for the nation’s public water systems. 98 of 162 businesses have pledged to go bottled-water free.
“We’re supporting the governor’s initiative by taking one of our own,” said Sean Ward, owner of Coffee Corner in Montpelier, VT. “We’ve gone bottled water-free because we take pride in the local tap, not just because it’s better for the environment and taxpayers, but also because it is the backbone of economic development.”
Governor Shumlin is joining New York, Colorado, and Illinois in cutting bottled water spending. Many public officials, like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, have also made significant commitments to allocate new resources to public water.
A study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors suggests that closing the tap investment gap could create tens of thousands of jobs, and help generate tens of billions of dollars in GDP. Conversely, bottled water has a range of costs to taxpayers. For example, each year cities and states pay at least $42 million to dispose of plastic water bottles.
“During these tough economic times our government should be spending scarce public dollars on projects that provide vital public services and grow the economy at large, not just the bottom line for a handful of private corporations,” said Kristin Urquiza, Think Outside the Bottle Campaign Director. “Investment in public water is, in this respect, one of the wisest investments we can make.”
The organization released several maps today that show that dozens of establishments around each state capitol are opting for tap over bottled water, or have joined the campaign because they see how critical it is for the state government to make this same simple, yet important, policy change.
Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) is a membership organization that has, for the last 33 years, successfully advanced campaigns protecting health, the environment and human rights. Think Outside the Bottle is Corporate Accountability International’s national campaign to promote, protect and ensure public funding for the nation’s public water systems.