It’s official. The National Park Service has approved a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles in Grand Canyon National Park. Within the next month, expect to have to BYOWB (Bring-Your-Own-lifesaving-Water-Bottle) when you want to take a hike through the National Park.

What could possibly be the reason for the ban on plastic water bottles?

According to the NPS, plastic bottles are about 30 percent of the Grand Canyon’s waste stream. This move taken by Regional Directors of the park service is intended to promote the use of refillable water bottles by the park’s visitors.

This comes contrary to opinions expressed by the Director of the Federal NPS in a public memo warning that eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles in US National Parks may endanger visitors, stating:

A ban could affect visitor safety; proper hydration is key to planning a safe two-hour hike or multi-day backcountry excursion.

The National Director also said that

A ban could pose challenges for diabetics and others with health issues who come to a part expecting bottled water to be readily available.

Oddly enough, the ban on plastic water bottles does not extend to soft drinks sold in plastic bottles. Soda will continue to be sold to thirsty hikers. What does NPS have to say about that?

Banning the sale of water bottles in national parks has great symbolism, but runs counter to our healthy food initiative as it eliminates the healthiest choice for bottled drinks, leaving sugary drinks as a primary alternative.

According to Plastics News, the reason why unhealthy soft drinks are not subject to the ban goes back to pressure applied by a multinational brand in soft drinks who tried to kill the policy when it was in its draft stage last year.

In order to ensure that visitors to the Grand Canyon have adequate access to drinking water, the park was required to build 13 water stations distributed between the north and south rims.

If you think this is isolated to the Grand Canyon, think again. This move was born of a policy that was rolled out across the country to allow Regional Directors to make the determination on a park by park basis whether to ban water bottles.

So, if you’re planning on taking a trip out to see our Nation’s beautiful parks, make sure you BYOWB.