Led by students in the Saint Michael's College Green Up organization and the SMC Office of Sustainability, the college has taken steps to begin to remove bottled water from campus vending machines.
This comes during a full schedule of Earth Week activities on campus with Environmentalist Maude Barlow speaking on the Global Water Crisis on Thursday night at 6 p.m. in McCarthy Arts Center. And at the same time that Saint Michael’s has just been named to be in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green College: 2012 Edition to be issued April 17th.
A resolution to ban the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus was presented to the SMC Student Association, the Faculty Assembly and the President’s Cabinet in March, and all three groups approved the ban, within certain limits. The limits essentially being that the college needs to provide bottled water to campus visitors in certain situations.
Green Up terms the sale of bottled water “unsustainable and socially unjust,” even if it is inconvenient to make this move. Saint Michael’s joins a group of fewer than 25 colleges nationwide that have banned the sale of bottled water on their campuses, UVM, Dartmouth and Harvard among them.
Tap water, safe and tested, and readily available
Led by student leaders, Liam Callahan, Karri Makinen and Nora Stoelting, Green Up and the college facilities office have moved to make tap water easily available, by providing seven locations to refill reusable water bottles, with four more such locations to be added this year, and more to be added in the future. The group assured the campus that the tap water available locally is tested every month by the Champlain Water District and has been repeatedly recognized for its high quality water.
Among the factors presented in Green Up’s bottled-water-ban resolution were the following:
• Green Up secured 734 student signatures on a petition to ban the sale of bottled water on campus
• PET plastic water bottles generate two billion pounds of waste every year that accumulates in oceans, streams and landfills
• 72% of all plastic water bottles are never recycled
• Recycling requires the input of energy, and recycled plastic bottles are often downcycled into lower quality plastics that soon end up in landfills
• Bottled water remains virtually unregulated by the FDC, while tap water is tested multiple times a day
The concluding resolution, approved by the Student Association, the Faculty Assembly, and the administration, moved that bottled water would no longer be sold in vending machines or at cafés on campus, that college organizations would no longer distribute bottled water at campus events, and that the college would “spread a message in support of municipal water sources and against the privatization of water.” Limits to the ban include providing bottled water to guests as necessary on campus visits.
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