After three weeks of letters to the editor supporting a ban on single-use plastic water bottles in Sandwich, I felt the need to present an opposing view. There are several reasons why I disagree with the previous letters.

Firstly, there are many people on the Cape who do not have town water but have private well water, which in some cases needs filtration systems, so homeowners will be able to drink the water. The Upper Cape particularly has been plagued with contaminated water in the past, due to high levels of PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) resulting in suspected higher rates of cancer. Private wells should be tested regularly because of the contiguous aquifer and sandy soils which make the water susceptible to pesticides and chemical spills, not to mention on-site septic systems. Therefore, it is very expensive to properly filtrate well water so that it is not only drinkable, but does not corrode pipes and discolor lavatories, dishwashers and blonde hair due to high mineral content. My family has a well, and we have chosen to drink bottled water daily. If I cannot buy it here in Sandwich, I can assure you I will buy it elsewhere, and I’m sure many others who prefer bottled water will do the same.

Even in Hyannis, which has a public water system, the city is dealing with PFAS in its drinking water. This is a direct quote from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from an article written by Georeen Tanner, published by Fox News January 25, 2019: “It’s like living in a science fiction nightmare. In my own home I haven’t been able to drink the water for a couple of years. I have to tell my kids not to drink the tap water—they’re being raised on bottled water.” Additionally, in the article it was stated: “PFAS chemicals were found in groundwater and soil on and near Joint Base Cape Cod, Barnstable Municipal Airport and Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy in Hyannis. Firefighting exercises are done at all three.”

Secondly, has the group calling itself Sustainable Practices given thought to how a single-use bottle ban will affect businesses here in Sandwich? Our Stop & Shop markets have dedicated an aisle to single-use bottled water because the public WANTS it. Imagine what will happen to businesses like our markets, packaging stores, convenience stores, fast food restaurants and the like if they can no longer sell bottled water to their customers who demand it? Manufacturers of bottled water have not yet come up with a reasonable alternative to single-use plastic bottles and until they do, it is unreasonable to think that we can just remove plastic off the shelves.

Thirdly, the fact that single-use plastic bottles end up on beaches, in woods, on streets and other places where they don’t belong is not the fault of the plastic itself, but the bad behavior of those who continue to litter because they are ignorant and/or indifferent to both the environment and the welfare of other human beings. I am in favor of very stiff and increasing fines for those who litter.

Fourthly, as I walk along my street, I hardly ever see single-use water bottles littering the woods across from our home. Instead what I do see are a lot of are beer and soda cans, glass liquor bottles and nips. So, does this mean we should also start banning aluminum and glass as well in our town?

And, this brings me to my fifth and final point, which has to do with the trampling of freedoms and rights in this country. The older I get, the more I see certain groups of people obsessed with the need to control others for their own personal agendas instead of dealing with real issues. Perhaps Sustainable Practices could focus their efforts on the relevant issues regarding drinkable water on the Cape and stop trying to upend the lives of people who want and depend on bottled water.

Kathleen Barrett

Popple Bottom Road


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