Over the years, college students have stood together for what they believe in, from civil rights to anti-war policies to the more recent protests against the unequal distribution of wealth, otherwise known as Occupy Wall Street. But no where in history have students banned bottled water. Until now.
The bottle water ban, which started on just a few campuses, has now spread nationwide to more than 20 universities. The colleges have either completely banned the use of plastic bottles altogether, or some have taken a more limited approach with partial bans. This last week, NPR reported that the University of Vermont ended their contract with Dasani, owned by the Coca-Cola company, despite the introduction of their new "plant" bottle.
Support from the bans comes from an organization called Ban the Bottle, a non-profit group which raises awareness about the economic and environmental costs associated with using plastic bottles. The group claims that eight glasses of water a day costs each person 49 cents annually, whereas drinking from plastic containers costs $1,400 per year. Other messages are used to educate consumers on the health risks. According to the Ban the Bottle website, plastic bottles contain antimony — a chemical that in low doses causes depression and dizziness — but that in large doses can even lead to death. While Ban the Bottle highlights the health issues tied to PETs, the chemicals in plastic, their main goal is to promote environmental sustainability.
Last September, the bottle battle made national news when students at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, protested in favor of water bottles on campus. The campus's college Republicans protested to bring bottled water back, even handing out bottled water when their school administration decided to rid the plastic containers from the vending machines. Instead, the campus decided to install 31 "hydration stations," costing the institution $20,000. Their goal was to make it easier for students to refill their reusable bottles. Chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans, Ryan Lyk, released a statement to the press that said, "Just as the government should not ban plastic bottles in America, a school administration should not ban the sale of plastic water bottles on their campus."
The controversy over bottled or tap is not limited to the students and college administrations. Manufacturers are seeing the movement as a threat. To counter that, they have come out with their own video on YouTube stating that the students have "misinformation" about the plastic bottles. One of their arguments is that bottled water is a good alternative to the more sugar-laden beverages they would normally reach for.
Bottled water is big business. According to NPR, the industry took in $10.6 billion in revenue in 2010 and they saw about five percent growth in 2011. But the industry is concerned this movement will impact sales in 2012.
The main question that is on their minds and others who are opposed: What happened to freedom of choice?
What do you think? Is it right for a college administration to ban bottles?
Photo Credit: The Coca-Cola Company
Author:Andy Walker Phone: 201-424-8628 Dated: February 13th 2012 Views: 2,145 About Andy: Having lived in New Jersey for over 20 years, I have been a top producing Realtor and member of the ...
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