Dreaming of a bottled water-free campus
Bottled water is an unnecessary commodity that only encourages environmental degradation and poses a huge risk to land and marine animals. Aside from the consumption of plastic, Ecowatch reports that there are numerous other environmental impacts stemming from the use of disposable bottles, including: the CO2 emissions associated with the fuel used to transport bottles to the campus, the electricity consumed to refrigerate the vending machines selling bottled water, and the energy required to recycle the disposable bottles.
Several other universities including the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Ryerson, Trent, and Queen’s have already adapted a bottled water-free campus. I’ve been able to experience the success of a bottled water-free campus at the University of Ottawa, as I was a student there before transferring to Guelph. Students had made such a habit of using refillable water bottles that even off campus, when bottled water was available, they opted to fill their own bottles from fountains or taps. It’s behavioral changes like this, especially in millennials, that will make an impact and shape our planet’s future.
This initiative is about more than just plastic; it’s about stopping the privatization of public resources and ensuring all people can exercise their human right to water. Bottled water can be cost prohibitive, whereas water fountains are free. This is as much a human rights issue as it is an environmental issue.
The University of Guelph boasts a reputation as a school focused on sustainability, however the sale of bottled water on campus discredits these claims.
If Guelph wants make an impact in the fight for sustainability, it will adapt a bottled water-free campus, which would include: a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles across campus, including in vending machines and at food services locations; the addition of accessible water fountains across campus (currently there are only 25 combination bottle-filling and water fountain units on campus, while the University of Ottawa has over 150); and promotion of the City of Guelph’s Blue W program.
—Emily De Sousa
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