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Ban the Bottle: Higher Ed is Turning Away From Plastic

By Sharon Chen
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Universities and colleges are increasingly looking to beverages as the way to sustainability. Whether it’s installing water bottle fillers to reduce plastic bottle usage, participating in challenges like Kill The Cup, or banning Styrofoam containers from campuses, higher ed is doing its part to reduce waste and inspire green thinking.

Cornell is the latest example of a university that is exploring alternatives to bottled water. Hundreds of students have signed a petition to end the sale of bottled water on campus, and to focus on using refillable bottles and to invest in more drinking water infrastructure.

These are important steps towards sustainability and waste reduction. Just as important is the example and the message these actions send. Universities operate on large scales: they provide housing and food for thousands of people, and have incredible purchasing power. In this sense, college campuses are similar to municipalities. If higher ed can show that transitioning away from plastic bottles and styrofoam is sustainable and affordable, others have less excuses for not doing so. Higher ed continues to play an important role when it comes to leading on climate solutions.

Hundreds Sign Petition Calling for End to Sale of Bottled Water

Sofia Hu | The Cornell Daily Sun | November 4, 2015

Over 620 people have signed a petition as of Wednesday calling to end the sale of bottled water on campus, addressed to President Elizabeth Garrett and the Student Assembly, according to Zeyu Hu ’19.

The petition, which launched Monday evening, is sponsored by the S.A.’s environmental committee and includes signatures from undergraduates, faculty members and alumni.

“The majority of the responses have been positive and supportive,” said Hu, a member of the S.A. environmental committee. “The petition has been generating meaningful discussion about tangible steps to reduce plastic products such as disposable water bottles that enter the campus waste stream.”

The committee’s petition is the latest step in a movement to end the sale of bottled water on campus that began several years ago. In 2010, the S.A. passed a resolution called “Take Back the Tap” which recommended that Cornell take several measures towards limiting the use of bottled water on campus.

The 2010 resolution recommended that the University encourage using refillable bottles, invest in more drinking water infrastructure and take “gradual but concrete steps to end the purchase, sales, and distribution of bottled water on campus and at Cornell-hosted events.”

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