University of Vermont Bans Bottled Water
In a move to help prevent waste and littering on campus, the University of Vermont has introduced a new rule for its 14,000 students this quarter that will ban the purchase of bottled water at the university. Instead, the university has modified water fountains into “refill stations” that will allow students to refill their reusable bottles.
“It’s much more convenient to fill up your water bottle at a water fountain than to buy bottled water,” says Mikayla McDonald, a graduate of the University of Vermont who has spearheaded the campaign to remove bottled water from her former campus.
For McDonald, who was recently interviewed by NPR, the endeavor goes beyond improved waste management practices and into the very nature of how the American public privatizes resources that should be free of cost rather than the domain of a business conglomeration.
“Bottled water is a symbol of our culture’s obsession with commodifying things that should be public trust resources,” said McDonald.
While other universities and colleges across the country have previously taken steps to either reduce consumption of bottled drinks or ban them altogether, the University of Vermont is now the largest public institution in the U.S. to implement such a step. As a result, the move has received outcry from the beverage industry who typically receive large profits from the college-aged demographic.
“I think they’re concerned because it’s such a radical step,” says Andrew MacLean, a lobbyist for the beverage industry’s distribution in Vermont. While Maclean states that he understands the concern for the environmental impact made by bottle beverages, he also said that the ban goes against free choice and will likely not succeed in its goals.
“The factors that will result in more materials getting out of landfills is going to be a cooperative effort promoting strong recycling,” said Maclean.