Local environmental groups to hold water bottle protest Monday

Trash picture

Litter, including water bottles, is a chronic problem in Little Hunting Creek (Friends of Little Hunting Creek picture)

Betsy Martin and other volunteers have been holding cleanups at Little Hunting Creek since 2002. Each year they fill hundreds of bags full of litter from the creek, often holding multiple cleanup events to help keep the Potomac River tributary from being overwhelmed with trash. 

It’s a ritual that’s grown tiresome, Martin says.

We don’t want to do it anymore,” said Martin, who noted that volunteers filled more than 400 bags of trash during an annual stream cleanup last year. “It’s disgusting. We shouldn’t have to pick up garbage every year.”

Now Martin and The Friends of Little Hunting Creek, a group she helped found in 2012, are joining with the Friends of Huntley Meadows and other environmental groups to protest the water bottle industry, whose products make up a large part of the trash pulled from local waterways each year. 

The environmental groups, joined by Del. Paul Krizek (D-44), will protest outside the The International Bottled Water Association headquarters in Old Town Alexandria on Monday from 7-10 a.m. to raise awareness and demand change from a group they say is blocking legislation that could cut down on the litter problem.

“I think they need to be convinced that it’s a serious issue” Martin said. “They need to take responsibility for what happens to their products.”

Other groups attending the protest include Friends of Accotink Creek, Friends of Dyke Marsh, Friends of Lake Accotink Park, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club. 

The protesters intend to “engage and inspire the morning’s commuters with creative signs, trash-themed costumes, and handouts,” Krizek said in an email to supporters. 

We will call on the IBWA to take meaningful actions to reduce water bottle litter in our watersheds,” Krizek said.

Martin and others, under the umbrella of the NOVA Trash Action Work Force, met with representatives from the IBWA last month to discuss the problem. The meeting was polite, but the association remains out of touch with the severity of the problem, Martin said. The task force wants the IBWA to end their opposition to bottle deposits, as well as their opposition to a ban on the sale of water bottles in national parks. 

The trade associations are opposed to anything that would actually make a difference,” Martin said.

The IBWA is located at 1700 Diagonal Road in Old Town, which is across from the King Street Metro station (see map).