To restaurateur Tom Guinney, drinking bottled water is as uncool as smoking in a crowded restaurant and it's a fad that won't last long.
Guinney, an owner of the Gastronomy restaurant group, is one of several Salt Lake City business owners who have joined Mayor Rocky Anderson's newly launched "Knock Out Bottled Water" campaign and vowed not to sell bottled water at his establishments. Guinney says he thinks that soon a majority of restaurants won't sell "bottled tap water."
"This is not a vision of something that will take place in the next decade; (selling bottled water) is probably where smoking was in public restaurants and private clubs four or five years ago," Guinney said. "I speculate that in 36 months the consumption of (bottled water) sold in the hospitality industry will be half of what it presently is."
Anderson unveiled his new campaign www.knockoutbottledwater.com Friday morning, noting his involvement in a national movement to eliminate bottled water in lieu of tap water. The mayor is encouraging business owners and residents to commit to not selling or drinking bottled water and support others who have committed to do the same.
"The purchase of bottled water is absurd," Anderson said. "It is a sign, when we purchase bottled water, of our destructive consumerism. It is a reckless waste of public resources (not to use tap water), and when we purchase (bottled water) it is a waste of our own monetary resources as well."
Establishments who have committed not to serve bottled water will display a "Knock Out Bottled Water" decal, Anderson said. So far, 15 restaurants, which are listed on the campaign's Web site, have agreed to participate in the campaign. Anderson said a majority of restaurants have not yet responded to the campaign request, but some business owners have declined to participate.
"One club owner said 'no' because he can make money off of selling bottled water," Anderson said. "That seems pretty short-sighted to me."
Raffi Daghlian, who owns Cedars of Lebanon restaurant on 154 E. 200 South in Salt Lake City, says he decided to commit to the no-bottled water campaign because of the environmental impacts the industry can have.
According to the Sierra Club, nine out of 10 plastic water bottles are not recycled. Other opponents of plastic bottles say the amount of oil required to make enough bottles for the United States for one year is enough to generate enough electricity for 250,000 homes or fuel for 100,000 cars for one year.
"I saw some reports locally and internationally about the cause and this position, and I just didn't want to use those bottled waters anymore, especially the plastic ones," Daghlian said. "We have to start somewhere, and a little bit here and a little bit there just adds up." Daghlian says he usually doesn't tell customers that the restaurant has bottled water available anyway, because he doesn't agree with the amount of energy it takes to make plastic bottles. The risk of losing revenue for not selling bottled water isn't a worry, Daghlian says."I have more of a conscience than a calculation of profits in my head, and everything is not about money," Daghlian said. "The greedier you get is not going to make you any happier. We can live with less."