In collaboration with Bon Appétit, members of the Wesleyan Student Assembly Dining Committee are currently discussing strategies for reducing bottled water consumption on campus. Although no concrete plans to reduce the availability of bottled water are in place, one option under consideration is the replacement of the bottled water for sale at Weshop with an AquaHealth brand filtered water dispenser in the store.

“For a couple years now, EON [the Environmental Organizers’ Network] has been thinking about ways to reduce bottled water use on campus, mostly for environmental reasons,” said EON Co-Coordinator and Representative to the Dining Committee Anne Rosenthal ’10. “This year we’re really looking for ways to work with Bon Appétit to institutionalize the minimization of it.”

The Dining Committee’s first step is to conduct an assessment of the level of student support for the removal of bottled water.

“We care about sustainability, but we’re also looking to keep the best interests of the student body in mind,” said Chair of the Dining Committee Ben Firke ’12. “We’re in the process of determining whether or not the student body would be willing to use something like AquaHealth.”

AquaHealth, Inc. has almost finished developing the filtered water-dispensing machine that would allow students to swipe a meal card in exchange for an amount of purified water, according to Bon Appétit Resident District Manager Michael Strumpf. The installation of such a machine at Weshop would allow students to fill their own reusable water bottles with AquaHealth water purchased from the dispenser.

According to Strumpf, the cost of water from one of these machines would be about half the cost of bottled water. While Bon Appetit would still make money from the machine, there are concerns that it would not recover from the loss of bottled water sales.

“We have hurdles here,” Strumpf said. “Are the customers going to pay for filtered water coming out of the machine that way?”

Even if the student body is found to support removal of bottled water and the AquaHealth machine appears to be a viable option, Strumpf noted that it is unlikely that any major changes will occur until next semester.

In the meantime, EON has made efforts to increase student awareness of the high cost of bottled water by flyering around campus and encouraging academic departments to use pitchers of water at events over individual bottles of water.

“The next logical step is to start taking it away from certain spots on campus,” Rosenthal said. “Other schools, such as Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Winnipeg have already taken such measures.”

Rosenthal cited financial, environmental, and health effects as reasons for avoiding bottled water: it is more expensive than tap water, the energy costs and pollution associated with recycling and transporting bottles tax the environment—even if the bottles are recycled—and regulation of the bottled water industry is fairly limited, so in some cases tap water is in fact safer to drink than bottled water.

“The crux of this campaign is the awareness issue, because when kids get off campus there’s going to be bottled water everywhere,” Rosenthal said. “We just want them to get in the habit of thinking about the impacts of their purchases and getting used to alternatives.”

In order to address the concerns of students who may be uncomfortable with drinking tap water, a group of EON members is currently working on a map of water fountains on campus in order to determine locations that could benefit from additional filtered water stations.

Even if bottled water is removed from Weshop, however, it will most likely still be available at other locations, like Pi and Usdan Café.

“We want to be good stewards of the earth,” Firke said. “But we also want to make sure that if there’s something that Wesleyan students really become reliant on, we’re not going to deprive them of that for what they would interpret as being arbitrary reasons.”

  • Anonymous

    Don’t limit the student’s choices… just offer one of the new bottles— like the PLA bottle from Primo Water which is made from US corn and decomposes easily…

  • David Lott, ’65

    Well, no one died of thirst at Wesleyan before bottled water became commonplace. Nor were there outbreaks of hideous diseases. So it’s hardly a necessity. It’s a convenience, nothing more.

    Just one more trade off between environmental correctness and convenience. I seriously doubt that my “activist” alma mater will cast convenience aside in this case.

    And by the way, the fact that the bottle is made from corn (!) and decomposes does not add much. The main environmental cost is in the production (which takes energy) and transportation (ditto.)

    It’s so hard to be politically correct when your self interest is involved.

  • David Lott, ’65

    By the way Anonymous (the fools are always anonymous), a quick web search will tell you that Primo Water apparently makes only large bottles for coolers. Their smallest is three gallons.

    Primo did introduce a 16.7 ounce “individual serve” bottle in 2008, but the product is no longer promoted and has disappeared from their web site. It’s been discontinued, it seems.

    I hope that while at Wesleyan, Anonymous, you will learn to check your facts before you open your mouth. It’s a good procedure to follow.

  • ’12

    You don’t go to this school anymore. Stop insulting Wesleyan students and get a life that involves something other than checking the argus everyday and researching/writing ridiculous comments that no one gives a shit about. It’s people like you, and other activist/liberal, who give wes a bad name…There’s nothing wrong with preferring a “convenient” way to drink water. The school should in no way limit student’s choices. It’s a free country, get used to it.

  • David Lott, ’65

    Let’s see, ’12. Anon. couldn’t write and you can’t read. Where in the world did you conclude that I’m an activist liberal? My friends would find that pretty funny. I pointed out some facts, and made a prediction. Do you see any advocacy there?

    Plus insulting Wesleyan students is so much fun. Their skins are thin and they bleed so easily.

  • ’12

    Seeing as how I can write, I most definitely can read. I’m sure the admissions committee and my 800 on the writing section of the SAT would also prove me right. I have concluded that you are many things, not just an activist liberal, from your comments, which do imply a liberal/activist bias. The simple fact that you commented on this particular article, and took the time out what I’m sure is quite the busy life (I hope you can sense a little sarcasm there) does suggest to me the type of person you are.
    Also, I’m quite surprised you have friends, and I’d be even more surprised if they decided to stay friends with you after hearing you stalk the argus wesbite writing insulting comments to students (especially since it’s not the goal of the students who write 4 line responses to write an argumentative response for your benefit).

    Again, please get a life. Preferably one that does not involve you with Wesleyan. For although it is a Liberal place, and I am a conservative, you are indeed an asshole.

  • David Lott, ’65

    Twelve, you are right about the reading part. I should have said you have difficulty comprehending.

    I am pleased that you got 800 on the writing section. Even by today’s lowered standards, that’s something of an accomplishment. Though not so impressive that one should brag about it openly.

    I read the Argus because it’s the only unfiltered view of Wesleyan available to an old fellow like me. Not a pretty sight.

  • lol4lyfe

    why don’t u two fags get a room. arguing on the internetz is for idiots.

  • Hey David Lott ’65

    you guys didn’t have, like, calculus. or black people. relaxed standards stfu

  • David Lott, ’65

    Not many black people, no. Sad but true. No women either. Nice that those things changed. Amazing as it might seem the calculus had been invented and was studied.

    ’12 is impressed by his own SAT scores and does not like old people.