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The members of the Environment Committee of the Berkshire Women's Action Group (from left): Anni Crofut, Wendy Kleinman, Marcia Arland, Marj Wexler and Jennifer Clark. Photo courtesy Berkshire Women's Action Group

GB on Tap update: Bylaw enforcement and water stations

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By Saturday, Apr 13, 2019 Life In the Berkshires 18

A proposed Elkay water station. Photo courtesy Berkshire Women’s Action Group

We, the Environment Committee of the Berkshire Women’s Action Group, are pleased to update the public on our recent work. The plastic water bottle bylaw is currently in effect.

Although the original enforcement date was set for May 1, 2019, the selectboard changed the date to May 2020. However, selectboard Chair Steve Bannon said that date will be reviewed once the three new water stations are operational sometime this summer.

The selectboard urges businesses throughout town to proactively comply if they have not yet done so. Bannon says, “It is our hope and expectation that our business community is already complying with this new bylaw, with support from our citizens.”

A GB on Tap refillable water bottle. Photo courtesy Berkshire Women’s Action Group

In March, the selectboard gave the go-ahead to the Department of Public Works to purchase and install the first three water stations. The models chosen have both a bottle filler and a bubbler. They are state-of-the-art and hygienic, with a superior design that prevents contamination from other users, airborne deposits and tampering.

The three installation sites — Town Hall, Mason Library, and Housy Dome – were chosen in careful coordination with the DPW. Each is town-owned property, and the appropriate water pipes for the equipment to hook into exist in these locations. Filtration is advisable only in Housatonic, where residents are periodically concerned about water quality.

A GB on Tap decal on front windows of businesses. Image courtesy Berkshire Women’s Action Group

All monies for the water stations and for the first year of maintenance of the equipment have been raised privately by the Environment Committee. Great Barrington town treasurer Karen Fink has established the Water Station Fund for the purpose of accepting all donations for the stations. Housatonic Water Works has generously volunteered to pay for the water used at the Housy Dome unit.

It is also our goal to work with the town to replace or upgrade existing water fountains on the public ballfields. Please consider donating to the GB Water Station Fund. All contributions will be greatly appreciated. Click here to learn how to donate.

In addition, we are pleased that 28 GB on Tap retailers and eateries in town have agreed to fill customers’ reusable water bottles upon request. These establishments display the GB on Tap decal.

Please visit our website, GBonTap.org, where you will find extensive information about the bylaw, the GB on Tap program, and information about the plastic waste that is clogging and damaging our environment for hundreds of years to come.

18 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Steve Farina says:

    I believe what Steve Bannon said is, ” the enforcement date will be reviewed, which does not mean that it will change”.
    Also lacking in your press release is the statement from your group that by your own survey there are still about 50% of retailers selling the water bottles. Clearly you have managed to divide the town over this issue.
    Additionally, one of your members admitted to arguing with business owners about whether they should be selling them or not – and had to be cautioned by a selectboard member not to give the impression she represented the Town. (There has been more than one business who has personally reported to me the aggressiveness of this group, and on one occasion a threat of bad press if they did not conform).
    Please continue with your efforts to install the water filling stations using private funds, however, it is time to repeal the water bottle ban and end the division and outright anger this ban has caused (on both sides).

  2. Craig Okerstrom-Lang says:

    I have been using the water refill station at Guido’s on a regular basis; it’s located near their restroom area – big thank you to them for being the business to install one!

  3. Craig Okerstrom-Lang says:

    …the first business…

  4. John says:

    It is unfortunate that this group of individuals chose to attack business. Folks will simply buy elsewhere. Fully expect this group to approach vacationers as unsuspecting individuals walking down the street With a water bottle in hand, with confrontation.
    Yes there is too much plastic, but targeting business is downright spiteful and narrow in focus. The ban on sales is quite ineffective to achieve the goal.
    Use a little common sense, Go after the users If you want to make any meaningful change.

    In the meantime, why don’t you put some science to and smarts to work and invent some more biodegradable containers? That would be real change.

    By the way, nice plastic ketchup bottle on your table. Folks don’t respond well with do what I say, not as I do.

    1. Laura C says:

      that plastic ketchup bottle is refillable…they can use it many times over…which concerns me …….does it
      get wiped down every day? Glass bottles with a top are more hygienic.

  5. Janice says:

    Bravo to the Berkshire Womens Action Group for their work !! Great Barrington is again leading the way with policies that protect the environment. We have the opportunity to be an example to our summer visitors. A marvelous way to spread the word!

  6. Wendy T. Linscott says:

    Kudos and a huge thank-you to the Berkshire Women’s Action Group for its hard-won success in the ongoing battle against too much plastic. Most of us managed to live and carry on before the invasion of individual plastic water bottles, and I wager we can survive their elimination. Every small step away from our dependence on plastic is an ecological victory. Keep up the good work!

    1. Karen Waddell says:

      Thanks for the reminder that once upon a time we happily lived without the menace of single use plastic water bottles. This bill sets a good example of think global, act local. My thanks to the volunteers who have undertaken this. Now it’s up to us to adopt better habits. I watched in Los Angeles when, under mandate, supermarkets stopped providing single use plastic bags. No one groused about and it took about 6 months before you saw the majority of shoppers pulling reusable bags out of their cars just before going into the store. These are just habits and they are not a big deal to change. If it can happen in LA, it can happen in the Berkshires.

      1. Steve Farina says:

        Hahaha, actually we lived happily (at least a little less divided) before the BAN on water bottles.
        On one hand we had a BWAG EC member tell us education alone won’t work to dissuade consumers, as if we are not able to make our own decisions. Then, another BWAG EC member steps up and says they can educate the retailers and help them transition to alternatives, and that through proper education people change. Quite duplicitous, but very clever…as is their entire marketing effort.
        As for the plastic bag ban, which I do support…there are consequences to that too. This article must have made a lot of heads spin…especially being reported on the beloved NPR:

  7. Joseph Method says:

    Great job! The fact is, any step down the path of eliminating disposable plastic from our lives was going to be difficult. Let’s keep moving forward.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      Actually, Article 23, adding polypropylene to the polystyrene takeout container ban, was not difficult at all. And, as far as I know, no one stopped you from eliminating the use of plastic water bottles – or any plastic container for that matter – before the ban.
      The water bottle ban does not move us forward. It divides the community, does virtually nothing positive and in some ways is more harmful to the environment : more on that to come.

  8. concerned says:

    Yes but walk around town go to any Business parking lot ,Park, Housatonic Riverwalk, Sidewalks,do you see one plastic Water bottle ?,maybe, but count the” Dozens” of Miniture liquor bottles that litter the grounds and in some cases quite a few in certains spots. They are ugly ands tend to be more dense then a water bottle,therefor,takes a great amount of time to break down ,if at all,and no one sees this as an ugly blight surrounding the town,you go to the triplex and first thing you and your family see is mini liqour bottles,where a small child might think they are cute and rush to pick it up….(HORRORS) . Thank-you

    1. Steve Farina says:

      Yes…walk around town. The nip bottle is clearly the biggest pollution, and plastic nuisance, issue in town. We literally have only a handful of businesses who are legally allowed to sell them.
      One would think that an environmental committee would have an easy time going to these few businesses to get their buy in on a ban of the nip bottle (which to my understanding has a very low profit margin anyway) and then say, “everyone in town who ACTUALLY sells these is open to their ban”…easy
      Don’t show 40 businesses who don’t sell them and then say everyone who matters wants to ban them.
      That would solve a REAL problem right here in our Town.

  9. Steve Farina says:

    When the facts line up against you, send out email’s to your political connections and make sure it is about those and not the environment .
    Scared much?

    1. DB says:

      Calm down a little Steve. Just breathe. Let it go. You are way too upset about this. You’re having a very negative time over something that can be so easily viewed as a positive step forward. Your extreme reaction is probably not good for your health and well- being. Seriously, relax. Even if you believe what you say, you’re not the only one with a say. Championing for single use water bottles ….it must be such a drain and make it hard to think positively. Have a nice tall glass of cold water and relax. Enjoy the nice spring weather. Stop calling your neighbors names.

      1. Steve Farina says:

        Good morning DB,
        You are correct, I do need to calm down…and I should never comment while having my 2nd glass of wine 🙂
        I am sorry to have devolved to name calling.
        I also realize that mine is not the only opinion on the subject. It is, however, frustrating having been shut out of TWO town meetings on this topic.
        I will chill. I will see you and whoever else responds to that email calling for Edge comments at the ATM in May.
        At least I know I will be able to present the facts at this meeting and allow people to see the truth. At least then I will feel confident that the town has had the opportunity to see all sides.
        See you in a few weeks,hope you have a glorious weekend.

      2. Steve Farina says:

        Btw, did you happen to see this link in the comments of my LTE? I’d love to read your thoughts on successful implementation of water filling stations and education without a water bottle ban:

  10. Stephen Cohen says:

    This is about water bottles, clearly damaging to our environment, like plastic bags. Great Barrington was one of the early adopters of a regulation limiting bags, and the world and many states and legislatures are now doing the same. Businesses will not collapse because of the ban, and the “end of the world” arguments” by some ranters are just plain silly. We ban or require lots of things for the safety of our communities, this is a minor inconvenience at best. Maybe the opponents of the ban should start being upset about minors smoking cigarettes, vaping, drug use, or other real problems in the community.

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