Banning Bottled Water on Campuses
In a world increasingly faced with constraints to natural resources, many colleges and universities are working to demonstrate that being wasteful is not part of their agenda. The ubiquitous “bottled water” craze is facing increased resistance with some campuses going as far to ban their sale. In 2008, 8.7 billion gallons of bottled water were sold in the United States for a total market worth of $11.2 billion. That’s 28.5 gallons of bottled water per capita (2008 Bottled Water Market Report Findings).
Many colleges and universities have active campaigns underway to reduce the sale and consumption of bottled water on campus or ban them altogether. Their reasons are myriad and include:
- Waste created by producing plastic bottles and only a small percentage being recycled
- The commodification of a generally free resource
- Depletion of local aquifers and environmental harm done by producing bottled water
- Lack of regulation and health risks associated with bottled water – most tap water has been found to be cleaner than bottled
Campus Bottled Water Bans, a new AASHE member’s only resource launched this week, lists institutions that have banned bottled water from campus or have active campaigns to reduce their sale and consumption. Example campuses include Belmont University which has a great FAQ website detailing their recent decision to discontinue the sale of bottled water on campus. In addition, Inside the Bottle Campaign has an excellent case study on the University of Winnipeg’s bottled water ban; the first Canadian university to enact one.
Students have also taken a very active role in promoting tap water and the use of reusable bottles. Evergreen State College is a great example of a student-led initiative while the Washington University in St. Louis illustrates leadership from university staff.
In many instances, student leadership and activism has been a motivating factor in schools’ efforts to reduce or ban bottled water on campus. Despite the staggering numbers on the use of bottled water mentioned earlier, 2008 actually saw a decline in US bottled water consumption and sales. Here’s to continuing the downward trend in bottled water use and increased conservation on campuses. Raise those reusable bottles in a hearty "Cheers!"
As always, please feel free to provide additions, updates and suggestions for improving this new resource by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting below.
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