Thursday, September 13, 2012

SMC Thinks Outside the Bottle (the Water Bottle that is)

This semester, Saint Michael’s College has officially joined a small, but fast growing number, of forward-thinking college campuses that have kicked the water bottle habit!   Thanks to a lot of hard work by the student environmental club Green Up, the Office of Sustainability, many students, staff and faculty supporters, our campus has banned the sale of bottled water.  With an expanding Sustainability Program, growing Environmental Studies program and a community that focuses on social justice this was a no brainer move for the college. 


A college campus is the perfect environment for an initiative such as this.  It’s a place where we push our students and one another to be better, to make informed decisions and always look to how our actions impact the present and future generations.  Sometimes we just need a little push to get to that place ;)


In the Spring of 2009 Green up and the Office of Sustainability put together a Water Awareness week where we started to educate the campus about the impacts of bottled water.  Over the next couple of years educational programs continued and green up kept observing the general mood on campus about a possible water bottle ban.  Last Spring the timing seemed right and they took the appropriate steps to initiate such a ban:

(a) Collected more than 1/3 of the student body signatures favoring the ban
(b) Created a resolution on the ban that was passed by the Student Association
(c) Had the resolution passed by the Faculty Assembly
(d) Received approval from the Cabinet

The Specifics
1.      No bottled water sold in the campus bookstore, cafes or vending machines on campus
2.      Bottled water will not be provided at campus events (with the only exception being Commencement, Athletic Events and Admissions events)
3.      Campus clubs/organizations cannot use their budget money to purchase bottled water

Why is our campus doing this?
We are Saint Michael’s College after all, we love a good challenge that requires us to keep thinking forward and not backwards.  In case that is not reason enough for you, here are a handful of facts that led the campus to make this decision:
  1. 86% of plastic bottles are NOT recycled so they end up in our lakes, streams, oceans and landfills
  2. Tap water is more strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency than bottled water is by the Food and Drug Administration
  3. The Champlain Water District supplies campus with some of the best, cleanest water in the nation (and tests our water monthly)  http://www.cwd-h2o.org/
  4. Half of all bottled water sold is simply tap water in a plastic bottle (including Dasani, which had been for sale on campus before the ban)
  5. We have water bottle refill stations at fountains all over campus (Alliot, Cheray, Jean Marie, Library, Founders, Tarrant and Sloane with plenty more to come this fall)
  6. If you bought the daily recommended amount of water in a bottle from the bookstore, you would spend $1,971 in 1 year; filling up a reusable water bottle for the same amount of water in 1 year: no cost to staff, faculty, students and visitors
  7. The majority of our campus community (students, staff and faculty) pushed for this
  8. SMC is the perfect campus for this since we are a community that fosters innovative, creative thinking

What you can expect in the future?
You can expect continued education programs and events on the impact of bottled water.  You will start seeing posters/signage about the ban popping up around campus.  We view this initiative as something that will only get better and better with time.  The students and Office of Sustainability will constantly be looking at new opportunities and we look forward to working closely with everyone on campus to identify areas to improve to meet everyone’s needs.  You can also expect more refill stations!

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