Apart from raising $21 million per year for the city, the intent of the tax is to persuade people to stop drinking bottled water and start drinking the city's tap water again. Supporters of the tax believe it will succeed and ultimately reduce the amount of resources used to package, ship and dispose of bottled water and its containers. Critics, on the other hand, contend that the tax will make city residents return to drinking soda, obviously not a desirable outcome.
Tax It, Baby!
From my header you can gather that I support a tax on bottled water. This is because:
- Bottled water is ridiculous, especially since the water coming out of Lake Michigan is free and often cleaner than the stuff Aquafina is selling.
- Bottled water is a luxury good, isn't it? This basically means that people are drinking bottled water because they want to look cool. Well, if it's 10 cents more expensive, the people drinking it will just look that much coolor.
- Bottled Water Is Not a Neccessity. Now this is an important one. Nobody in Chicago needs bottled water because, like I said, Lake Michigan is a great water source. I'm not sure how or why people started thinking that Lake Michigan isn't good enough. When did this happen?
- Bottled Water Creates Pollution. Billions and billions of bottles are being transported around the country and then going into landfills or being burned each year (that's right, we burn plastic). To be exact about how much we're transporting, throwing into landfills, or burning, Americans bought 33 billion bottles of water in 2006 according to the American Beverage Association.
And as for people returning to soda because of the tax, I doubt that will happen. People who are willing to spend so much money on something they could get for free probably won't be price sensitive enough to make any lifestyle changes because of a little 10 cent tax.
Other Cities Taking Action
A recent USA Today article gave a nice summary of what other cities are doing:
- The mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City have asked city employees not to use bottled water or have banned city spending on it.
- The Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council this summer urged residents to tote refillable bottles and stopped buying bottled water for city functions. "We're not trying to make bottled water the bad guys," city spokeswoman Nancy Stone says. "We want to make the statement that tap water is great."
- New York Assemblyman Bob Sweeney has proposed a ban on individual bottles of water in state facilities. "This is something people can understand," he says.
- The Farmers Diner in Quechee, Vt., stopped selling bottled water a few months ago. Customers "are quite happy to get water from a well," the restaurant's Denise Yandow says.
- Santa Barbara, Calif., in April stopped buying bottled water and began serving tap water at city functions. "There's a significant amount of energy consumed to produce, store, bottle and ship the water," city spokeswoman Nina Johnson says." This is one of the simplest ways to counter that."