Would you ban bottled water from our campus?

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Today’s Washington Post features an article entitles “Solid opposition to bottled water is building on college campuses.” According to the article more than 90 schools are either banning or restricting the sales of bottled water.

Not all schools or students favor the idea – the thought is that people will turn to other bottled beverages that are sweetened and have worse individual health implications as well as maintain the problem of “bottle pollution.”

A few years back the city of Baltimore reminded us that tap water is not only safe but purified (and many bottled water companies simply take municipal water and resell it!). One can get safe water from a drinking fountain, but one ban not get juices or carbonated beverages out of the tap – so why spend money and create a carbon footprint with plastic and manufacturing when safe water is already at hand?

Interestingly there is even an International Bottled Water Association. This organization supposedly is not yet worried about such bans on their 9 billion gallon a year industry.
We are certainly lucky to have access to safe water when many people throughout the world do not. Ironically, a large plastic bottle of water in Nigeria can cost more than a large bottle of beer.

So far this appears to be a small scale effort changing policies from organization to organization, not yet taking it to local, state and national governments for debate. Would you voluntarily stop buying bottled water at school and just use the fountains and taps?

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7 Responses to “Would you ban bottled water from our campus?”

  1. jwanyiri Says:

    Definitely, I think that many people buy bottled water because there is the misconception that it is better than tap water. Making it clear that the tap water is safe will result to fewer people buying bottled water. I also think that letting people know how much they contribute to environmental degradation by buying water bottled in plastic bottles will reduce the amount of bottled water that people buy. I disagree with the fact that if there was no bottled water for sale people who turn to sugary drink . I think most college water drinkers know better than that.

  2. Mieka Smart Says:

    I think that a University like Johns Hopkins should lead the charge in issues like this. Instead of selling $1.50 bottles of water, we could sell $1.50 reusable containers, or have paper cups readily available for a $0.10 purchase. The film Flow (For the Love of Water) should be screened at JHU, as well. I think that movie had more impact on my behavior than any film I’ve ever seen.

  3. sbf17 Says:

    Like others have mentioned, I agree. But I believe the focus here should be on providing the right information instead of implementing policies that would regulate the use of bottled water. By promoting the scientifically backed evidence of tap water being healthy, we can enpower individuals to make the right decision.

  4. erinbaldridge Says:

    I agree with sbf17 that information is key. For example, on the Bloomberg campus specifically, putting a sign at every sink that says “this water source has been tested and proven to be of equal or higher quality than bottled water” would encourage people to refill thier own bottle.

    Logistics are also important: a bathroom sink is sometimes too shallow and a water fountain ofter too low an angle to really refil a water bottle. If we are serious about the behavior (students refil personal bottles rathern than purchase bottled water), we have to make the behavior feasible.

  5. mdres12 Says:

    Given the amount of energy and money spent on providing drinking water that is safe to drink in the US, it’s a shame that so much additional money is spent on bottled water.

    I think that part of the solution could be to implement a bottle tax to better reflect the true cost of a bottle. It pains me to see people buying bottled water, especially by the large case. Certainly if we were to put a 10 or 20 cent tax on each bottle, it would cause many more people to pause. The same could be done for soda bottles, discouraging the thought of simply switching to other similarly polluting disposables. The revenue for such a tax could be used for education campaigns surrounding the issue and pollution mitigation.

  6. shairst3 Says:

    I think most people just don’t think about the amount of energy spent in producing that plastic water bottle, and that most end up in landfills – taking hundreds of years to decompose. Education is key – and what better place to start than on a university campus. I would have no problem seeing a ban on plastic bottles on college campuses. Reusable water bottles may become as trendy as any designer bottle water.

  7. samreilley Says:

    This is an extremely interesting topic and one that I think is worth exploring!

    I agree with sbf17 in that more should be done on the education level than on the policy level. If we are able to educate people with the advantages of using tap water and the tap water quality. The time and an effort to put a ban on bottled water would be wasted. If we can just the time and effort we are likely to have a larger impact.

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