This column was intended to be a series of discussions on how to be a poor student with as low an environmental impact as possible. With the upcoming referendum, this kind of discussion seems to have exploded on campus. Being sustainable is not all about giving things up, or dedicating your life to activism. It’s also about changing culture, habits, paradigms, and ideas. Instead of thinking of it in terms of “going without,” changes in lifestyle can also be thought of as “going with something else.” If there is one thing you can do to be a more ethical and sustainable consumer, it is to choose not to buy bottled water; you’ll save money (water costs 4 times as much as gas), and reduce waste. Another way you can make this choice is by voting to advocate phasing it out on campus.
It’s hard to imagine not having bottled water when you want it. But there are a few things that can be done to live without it. If this “bottled water referendum” passes, the Student’s Union will negotiate with the university to slowly phase out the sale of bottled water on campus. In order to effectively do this, there needs to be alternatives.
First, we need more drinking fountains. There should be one on each floor of every building. It’ll be much easier not carrying our water around if we have convenient fountains.
Second, the cafeteria needs to provide reusable drinking glasses for people to use in the cafeteria (and we need to stop stealing them too I suppose). Why buy a bottle when you can just fill your glass like at home?
Third, we need more places to buy safe reusable water bottles at decent prices. As students it can be hard to find a reusable bottle for a good price that isn’t made with heavy metals or coated with chemicals (pretty much anything that’s less than 10$ usually fits this description…). If the bookstore or even the cafeteria sold good quality bottles, it would make access much easier.
Finally, we need to just get into the habit of taking our reusable bottles with us. A carabiner on your backpack and you are good to go. No need to worry about forgetting it because it’s attached to you. With fountains everywhere you can easily refill it. Even if you forget your bottle you can drink out of a glass or fountain too!
I know these seem like such obvious ideas, but sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out. So with these necessary changes in mind, it’s up to you to make a choice. Choose to reduce waste, avoid cancerous plastics, don’t buy from companies that take water from the poor, and remember, it’s just plain silly buying something you could legally and honestly get for free.
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