Arlington County Plastic Bottle Education Effort Pushed By Board Vice Chairman Jay Fisette

01/03/2013 02:44 pm ET | Updated Jan 04, 2013

Would you drink less bottled water if you knew the facts about its production and impact on the environment? One local Virginia official hopes his "personal crusade" will change consumer habits.

After two unsuccessful attempts to ban, restrict or tax bottled water and plastic bags in the county, Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Jay Fisette (D) thinks a big education campaign is the best alternative. The board member would like to inform consumers about bottled water's eye-popping environmental-impact statistics -- like the cost is 1,000 times that of tap water and it takes 700 years for bottles to begin to decompose.

Under Virginia law, local jurisdictions do not have the authority to regulate or restrict products without the blessing of lawmakers in Richmond. But as WTOP-FM reports, Fisette has support locally:

His call for residents to cut down their use of bottled water received nods of approval from the other board members when he presented the idea during the board's traditional reorganizational meeting on New Year's Day.

“I really love the bottle thing,” said board member Libby Garvey (D), according to the Sun Gazette.

Fisette wants his education campaign to include plastic bags as well. Locally, the District of Columbia and Maryland's Montgomery County assess 5-cent fee for plastic bags, which has helped reduce usage by local consumers.

The Examiner reports that although the impact on the environment may be good, the job market may take a hit.

Donna Dempsey, a spokeswoman for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said the county's suggestion to limit the use of bags could have major implications for jobs nationwide, since more than 30,000 Americans work for bag manufacturers.

A plastic bottle ban in Concord, Mass., went into effect on Tuesday after a three-year campaign by local activists. San Francisco city officials have considered banning plastic bottles, too. In 2012 the National Park Service stopped selling plastic water bottles at the Grand Canyon National Park.

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