Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Water refill station, anyone?

The most compelling feature for me was what was missing from the “Sustainable Sonoma” exhibit at the recent Sonoma County Fair.

The “Sustainable Sonoma” exhibit was billed as an exhibit that “entertains as well as educates fairgoers on environmentally friendly and sustainable living practices.” My husband and I were interested in this exhibit because we both try to reduce the impact we leave on our environment.

I want to give special mention to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and its “Spare the Air” campaign; my husband and I picked up clip-on ID pouches that seem perfect for holding a public transit rider’s pass.

Unfortunately, our stainless-steel water bottles were just as nearly empty when we left the exhibit as when we went beneath its dome. Nowhere on the fairgrounds was there a refill station for reusable water bottles. There were, however, ample opportunities to pay exorbitant prices for water in single-serving plastic bottles.

Eventually, we walked downtown and refilled our stainless bottles from a bookstore drinking fountain.

I wish that drinking fountains were more consistently an option for refilling a water bottle, but they only work well when there’s a high enough arc of water to reach the bottle when it’s nearly upright. Otherwise, water will spill out of the very bottle that I am trying to fill once the volume is past half-way.

Soda fountain spigots at fast-food restaurants are a frequently-reliable source for refilling water bottles. Also the staff at sit-down restaurants will often fill a water bottle if asked.

These were not options at the Sonoma County Fair.

Only a few weeks earlier, my husband brought home an insulated Klean Kanteen from the Harmony Festival where, he told me, the Chico-based manufacturer had provided a water bottle refill station
The two events took place at the exact same venue so why was there not a similar station at the Sonoma County Fair, given the emphasis of “Sustainable Sonoma” on environmentally-friendly practices? This absence of something that, to us, seemed an obvious way to eliminate unnecessary waste, made a mockery of sustainability.

Other events have successfully made themselves bottled-water free events; one example close to home is SolFest in Ukiah. There vendors sold reusable bottles and there were free water refills for everyone.

Our own Lake County Fair is coming up and wouldn’t it be great if someone were to provide a water bottle refill station? Through Klean Kanteen co-branding, a nonprofit group could feature its logo on stainless bottles available for sale while offering free refills to everyone.

For more information about hosting a bottled water-free event, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/bottled/free-your-event-from-bottled-water/. For information about Klean Kanteen co-branding, visit www.kleankanteen.com/cobrand/cobrand.php.

Published Aug. 30, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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