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Univ of Vermont Bans Bottled Water on Campus

Univ of Vermont Bans Bottled Water on Campus

The University of Vermont is banning the sale of bottled water on its campus in response to calls to reduce plastic waste and to save students money. Students will be encouraged to use stainless steel water bottles (which can be bought for $1 from a student environmental group) and fill them from taps installed at converted drinking fountains around the campus.

A student group, the Vermont Student Environmental Program, led the calls for the ban, which makes quite a bit of sense from both an environmental and an economic perspective. The dollar spent on a stainless steel bottle is often less than the cost of a bottle of water (at the college where I teach, at least).

Not surprisingly, the International Bottled Water Association is not in favor of such bans on the grounds that “they do not necessarily lead to greater consumption of tap water and may instead lead to more drinking of sugary sodas” and that they “destroy jobs.” Plus, says the association, rates for recycling are improving.

Also less than happy about the University of Vermont’s new policy will be Coca-Cola, which had the exclusive “pouring rights” to the campus and indeed sold about 1.1 billion bottles of beverages there annually. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, by not renewing its ten-year-contract with Coca-Cola (which has expired), the University of Vermont will be giving up about $500,000 each year in financial aid and support for athletic and other programs.

When you consider the monetary savings and the benefits to the environment, the loss of those funds (which the University has said it will seek to make up via new contracts) seems like a win in the long run. In 2009, Americans spent $10.6 billion on bottled water. But only 25 percent of water bottles are recycled, says Reuters citing figures from Food and Water Watch. Rare are the times that my son and I have walked through one of the playgrounds and athletic fields in our town without spying a grimy, half-flattened plastic bottle in the grass.

In the past three years, a number of other US schools — University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, University of Portland and Washington University in St. Louis — have instituted bans on the sale of bottled water. The University of Vermont, with 11,5000 students, is the largest yet to do so. The ban will take effect in just under a year, in January of 2013.

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88 comments

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3:50PM PST on Jan 7, 2014

amazing! more schools should do this!

8:15PM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Yes! This is great news. The sooner plastic bottles are banned, the better. Drink water from water bottles, it saves money and the environment! :D

5:04PM PDT on May 30, 2012

great. now ban them everywhere!

3:50PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

This is good for everyone!! I just hope the refilling stations are sanitary and kept clean or germs will be spread. If they are operated by a lever that has to be touched, a student with unwashed hands, or a student with a cold can spread germs to everyone who touches it. It would be great if they had touchless refilling stations, such as many restrooms have for hand washing.

7:08AM PST on Feb 27, 2012

This ban on plastic bottles is a great idea!! And getting a refillable stainless steel bottle for a dollar is an even better deal, as long as they have a lot of refilling stations around the campus.

4:06PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Alright.

8:10AM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Good start! All universities should follow their lead!

3:22PM PST on Feb 6, 2012

I would prefer they ban soda bottles and leave the water bottles or ban both. Install lots of recycling areas and signs. Sodas are awful to the body and mind. All schools K-12 should ban all soda products from being sold on premises. Focus on water and our youth will be healthier and stronger fro it. College aged kids can bring those kinds of drinks in with them from the outside but should be guided to make healthier choices on campus as well.

9:48AM PST on Feb 6, 2012

The variety has only been reduced for the soda companies to remove their water products Pepsi/Aquafina and Coke/Dasani. I think this a great step in a positive direction. Reducing is better that recycling. However, recycling is still needed too.

7:36AM PST on Feb 6, 2012

awesome....and it is the youth that will have to live with environmental destruction we have spawned so glad to see them taking charge and making the right decisions....

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