When Jonathan Jarvis became the director of the US National Park Service he decided that the environmental impact of disposable plastic bottles was not consistent with the parks’ raison d’etre – to protect and preserve the beauty of nature. So one of his first moves was to instruct the parks to stop selling them. Since then all nineteen of the major national parks, including the Grand Canyon, have stopped selling bottled water. Predictably, the $13-billion-a-year bottled water industry has been protesting loudly, and lobbyists for giant corporations such as Evian and Nestlé are spending millions to convince the US congress to lift the ban. So far they have been unsuccessful.
Before the ban plastic bottles made up one-third of all the garbage in the parks. In addition to the environmental and aesthetic damage, the costs of removing and recycling all of that plastic waste were astronomical. Whilst plastic bottled water will no longer be sold, the ban falls short of prohibiting guests from bringing their own pre-bought bottles into parks with them. The parks are trying to discourage that by providing their guest with shiny new public water bottle filling stations.