Bundanoon on Saturday became the first town in Australia, and possibly the world, to ban the sale of bottled water.

The 2,500 residents voted in July to stop shops from stocking single-use bottles and switch to retailing bottles that are refillable free at taps around the town.

“As politicians grapple with the issue of climate change, we should never forget that each and every one of us can make a real difference at the very local level,” shopowner Huw Kingston told the local paper, the Southern Highland News.

“As was demonstrated by the intense media interest from all around the world, it's extremely heartening that our small town has become an international role model for grassroots action.” The tourist town of Bundanoon, 120 kilometres south of Sydney, showed it was fun to be green by putting on a parade and a party for the switchover.

It also demonstrated that environmentalism and entrepreneurship can coexist. Collectors were picking up souvenir switchover bottles at 29 Australian dollars (24 US dollars) apiece. The standard refillable bottles retail for the same price as the superseded reusable ones.

Jon Dee, head of environmental lobby group Do Something, reckons Bundanoon is the first place in the world to impose a ban.

Bottled water is ‘a marketing con’

“Huge amounts of resources are used to extract, bottle and transport that bottled water, and much of the packaging ends up as litter or landfill,” he said. “Bottled water is a menace and a marketing con that's been visited on Australians by the bottled water industry and what we are trying to do is expose that con for what it is.”

Environmental group Eco Worldly estimates that the energy required to produce bottled water is 2,000 times that to produce tap water.

Kingston assured visitors that they would not be run out of town if they arrived with bottled water. “Nobody is going to get lynched for carrying a bottle of pre-packaged water down the main street of Bundanoon,” he said.

Kingston hatched the Bundy-on-Tap idea after soft drinks company Norlex Holdings applied to pump water out of a local aquifer to supply the bottled water market. The initiative was put to the townsfolk and there were 355 votes in favour of banning the sale of bottled water and only one against.

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