Why should we pay for something that’s already free? This is a question that was posted by over 60 universities nationwide in a campaign against bottled water. About two-thirds of our natural world is made of water yet the bottled water industry charges us for it. Furthermore, it uses public as well as private intuitions such as colleges and universities to market and sell bottled water.
Evidently, colleges and universities are not the only marketing place for the bottled water industry, but then again they are an ideal place for influence, change, and young adults’ aquisition of real personal responsibilities. In many colleges and universities two new changes have been taking place recently; first their increasing efforts to “go green” with sustainability committees and recycling and waste reduction programs, and second, the constant rising of school tuition.
West Chester University used to sell its own bottled water brand, but it was recently stopped. Katelyn Frate, director of Aramark food services at Lawrence Center, answered questions about the history of the West Chester University’s bottled water, when it was first produced, who produced it, and why it was stopped. She told me to send her an email with my questions, and after my questions were reviewed by Aramark’s legal services, she will be able to give me answers. I have not yet received any answers.
As a student I command the West Chester University for its recent ban of its bottled water brand and all the hard work the sustainability advisory council has done since 2001to promote and provide an oversight for sustainability issues at West Chester University. However, other bottled water brands on campus still exist, sending a contradicting message to students and faculty equally. Students pay thousands of dollars for tuition and they pay more to sustain the bottled water industry through campus vending machines and retailers.
The question at hand should not lie in whether or not an all-out ban is the answer to the issue of plastic bottled water on campus but rather should be provided alternative choices with the respect to students’ right to choose, hoping that well-informed students will make a healthier, safer, and cheaper choice. Here is a list of arguments against bottled water on colleges and university campuses.
Banning bottled water protects the environment. There is no disagreement among environmentalists that bottled water is bad for the environment. According to Trash Facts, Americans throw away enough plastic bottles each year to circle the earth four times. Every hour, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles (22 billion plastic bottles per year), however only 20 percent of plastic water bottles are actually recycled and the rest end up in landfills.
Using tap water is a great way to save money. Even though tap water is not entirely free, it costs about $0.00002 per ounce, while a single single-serve bottled water costs between 1,000 and 4,000 times more, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Banning bottled water may help improve the image of a university. By “going green,” universities can serve as a positive role model for students and faculty, help them carry this mission throughout their lives.
Bottled water is not healthier than tap water. According to Drinking Water Research Foundation, Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, while municipal/tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the EPA requires public water systems to provide more detailed information about water quality than the FDA requires of the bottled water industry.
Shayna Hussein is an MPH graduate student finishing her undergraduate minor in journalism. She can be reached at SH627717@wcupa.edu.