Bottled Water at Union

I used to be a bottled water guy. It was always cold, and guaranteed to be clean.

It was simple. When I was thirsty, I got a bottle of water. Drink, dehydrate over the course of a few hours, repeat. Though it varied from day to day, I would estimate I used to drink about 5-6, 16.9 fl oz. bottles of water every day. For those of us who like to try to show our mathematical prowess by completing simple equations, that’s 84.5-101.4 fl oz. of water a day.

Which, in the grander scheme of things, is roughly the suggested intake of water on a daily basis (currently 91 fl oz.). Yet, I was wasting all the plastic that had to contain that water, one plastic bottle at a time. I stopped drinking bottled water when I started actively trying to reduce my carbon footprint. I bought a reusable bottle, and I fill it up periodically from a fountain.

But in the case of the broader Union community, I see people with bottled water all the time. As I sit here writing, I count 4 people around me with plastic bottled water in some form or another. And I didn’t even count a fifth, who has a cardboard box of water, which proclaims itself to be “better” because “Boxed Water is Better”.

Let’s assume the average Union student drinks the suggested daily value of water, and Union has roughly 2,200 undergrad students. Let’s say half (being generous) consume bottled water while the other half consumes water more responsibly.

(1/2) x (2,200)=(1,110)…(1,110) x (5.5)=(6,105)

Following this logic, Union’s student body on a daily basis consumes over 6,000 bottles of water. That’s a staggering number. Even more staggering: the sheer cost of producing so many bottles of water.

According to a February 2007 Pacific Institute Report: “Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide…It took 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.”

This is, of course, not to mention what happens to these 6,000+ bottles of water afterwards. Are any re-used? What percentage are even recycled?

Drinking water should begin follow the same tagline as their counterparts in the alcohol industry.

Drink Responsibly.


5 thoughts on “Bottled Water at Union

  1. I completely agree with you. I buy plastic water bottles out of convenience, but in recent years have tried to use reusable water bottles in place of plastic. I think for most people, especially college students, convenience is key. I think if the bookstore posted statistics similar to the ones you stated above that students would think more carefully about the impact they are making on the environment.

  2. This was fantastic! I loved how you made your blog relatable and focused towards the Union student body in addition to giving relative perspective. You were able to emphasize the importance of reusable water and how if our student body lacks awareness about the importance of water consumption.

  3. This is great. I think you did a great job highlight the individualist perspective when it comes to contributing to the water footprint. I too, have often thought that vending or buying 1 bottle of water would have a marginal impact on the environment. While one single bottle may be negligible, it is this thought process that is emulated and repeated often by most of American society. As a result, these numbers add up significantly. You do a fantastic job of exemplifying this even on a microcosmic scale such as Union.

  4. This blog was super helpful in not only keeping it relevant to Union students, but also to visualize how much bottled water is actually hurting the environment. I liked how you broke it down step by step and made it easy for anyone to understand. It’s crazy that 6,000 bottles are bought a day at Union — I can’t even imagine what that number is worldwide.

  5. This was refreshing to read, pun intended, because there was such a great flow of not only ideas, but of math to back up your line of thinking. I also get upset when I see plastic water bottles on campus because it is so easy and much cheaper to just buy a reusable water bottle because this campus has made chilled, filtered water so readily available to us at all time. How do you think we could end the use of plastic water bottles on campus permanently?

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