I found this feel-good story about a successful use of ‘people power’ in the environmental movement:
Australia town bans bottled water
“Campaigners say Bundanoon, in New South Wales, may be the first community in the world to have such a ban… New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has backed the cause, ordering government departments to stop buying bottled water and use tap water instead. Mr. Rees says it will save taxpayers money and help the environment.” –BBC News
Reading about collective action benefiting the environment renews my faith in grassroots movements. But Australia is not the only country making strides to ban the bottle. Here in America, urban communities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago (to name just a few) are making change as well. In major cities all over the country local officials are responding to public pressure by either taxing the sale of bottled water or prohibiting the use of city funds to provide it at political events. Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor told Newsweek:
“These [bottled water manufacturers] are making huge amounts of money selling God’s natural resources. Sorry, we’re not going to be part of it. Our water in San Francisco comes from the Hetch Hetchy [reservoir] and is some of the most pristine water on the planet. Our water is arguably cleaner than a vast majority of the bottled water sold as ‘pure.’”
And on a less political level, we see a lot of localized community organizing against corporate bullying. In Mecosta County, Michigan a group called Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) sued Nestle last year after the company began excessively pumping at a nearby watershed. MCWC won the case and the citizens (temporarily) celebrated. Ok, it’s a little more complicated than that because Nestle basically lost the battle and won the war in that situation—but the point is that this kind of environmental justice empowers and unites communities in a collective fight for control over their right to live in a healthy environment.
I think these efforts represent the effectiveness of grassroots movements to overcome the sometimes overwhelming corporate pressure which tells us to consume un-sustainably.