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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.

I almost missed it because it was buried inside USA Today, but an industry friend pointed out to me that the Australian community of Bundanoon has taken the some-would-say radical step of banning plastic water bottles from the town.

There were several reasons for the decision, which was made at a public meeting of the town’s citizens. One, they say it is a moral issue because plastic bottles are bad for the environment. Two, the residents objected to the plans of a bottling firm to extract spring water from within its boundaries, bottle it and then truck it all over Australia – which they say creates way too big a carbon footprint.

So, they banned ‘em.

You want water in Bundanoon, you get it from the tap. You want to carry it with you, you have to bring a reusable container.

Now, I did a little checking, and to be honest, it isn’t likely that Bundanoon’s decision is going to have a lot of repercussions. It is a town in New South Wales with a population of about two thousand people; it often is compared to Brigadoon, the mythical Scottish town from the Lerner & Loewe musical of the same name that appears for only one day every 100 years and then vanishes back into the mist of the Scottish highlands.

But you know, such small decisions, even in small places, can have a ripple effect.

Just a few years ago, most Americans probably could not have imagined an environment in which communities would be either banning or taxing the use of plastic grocery bags, in which paying to buy reusable bags would become a small but growing trend.

But that’s happened. Could plastic water bottles be next?

Probably not. Then again, it isn’t hard for me to imagine that environmental activists could, perhaps emboldened by the Bundanoon decision, make this their next big cause. I can practically guarantee you that they’d hit a lot of obstacles in their quest, but it also seems certain that they might be able to ignite a fair level of support, especially from young people with a social conscience.

Such movements can start with a small town of two thousand people somewhere in Australia, but they can grow and gain momentum and suddenly companies manufacturing bottled water are looking around try to figure out what the hell happened, and why their lobbying and marketing dollars didn’t work.

It seems to me that the smart manufacturers and retailers – all of whom have skin in this game – ought to be thinking now about how such a movement might affect their businesses. They actually ought to be making plans for how to turn such a movement to their advantage, perhaps by being an early adopter of more ethical or environmentally friendly ways of selling water. Maybe a new kind of plastic bottle that is biodegradable? Or some other sort of container that nobody has thought of yet?

For companies that look to and anticipate possible futures, such movements actually offer opportunity. For companies that prefer to remain moored to the past and present, in denial about what can happen, such movements often are their worst nightmares. And yet, the initiatives are the same…it is the reactions that are different.

“There are always possibilities,” Mr. Spock likes to say, which is along the same lines as the Jean-Luc Picard line: “Things are impossible until they’re not.”

And if you don't believe that, consider the fact that 40 years ago today, Apollo 11 was launched on a mission that would take it to the moon, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would walk and plant an American flag in the lunar dust.

It’s true - anything can happen. It is up to us to make of such innovations what we can, and not to deny the possibilities that can either haunt us or invigorate us.

Even possibilities that are given life in places like Bundanoon.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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