Decreasing plastic water bottle use

On average the University of Denver uses almost 100,000 plastic water bottles each year. In response, DU’s Environmental Committee is working with an initiative called Take Back the Tap.

This campaign encourages students to use tap water and drink out of reusable water bottles. Additionally, Take Back the Tap wants to eventually ban plastic water bottles on campus.

This initiative “is a national campaign run through an organization called Food and Water Watch and there are about 55 people of my position around the country at different universities,” Andrew Bishop, DU sophomore, said. Bishop is the campus coordinator for Take Back the Tap.

Creating the initiative
In this position, Bishop said he “educates and advocates” what the campaign stands for.

Poster in Driscoll telling students where they can refill their water bottles

To help him do this, Bria Whitmore, DU junior, works on the marketing side of the campaign. Whitmore said she plans to have a booth on Driscoll Bridge to educate willing students about the differences between tap and bottled water.

As a member of the Undergraduate Student Government, Daniel Mason, sophomore, said he thinks this initiative is a good idea.

“I think us as humans are just very wasteful with lots of resources and I think it’s one step towards a better future,” Mason said.

Bottled water vs. tap water
So what is the difference between the two different waters?

Whitmore said that tap water must go through Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, while bottled water does not. She continued to say that tap water is safer and the FDA works with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that there are no harmful substances in tap water.

“Bottled water harms the environment because it’s polyethylene, which is plastic, which never decomposes. So it gets caught and stuck in the ocean and just in the landfills,” Whitmore said.

Although tap water is safer for people and the environment, Mason said he thinks it will be “tricky” to implement

Plastic water bottles are harmful for the environment and are often left in landfills, where it does not decompose

tap water only use on campus because of student’s different socio-economic backgrounds.

He went on and said that some people are accustomed to drinking tap water while some people have hardly ever drank it.

Creating a new policy
To have Take Back the Tap go into full effect, it will need to become a policy. This process is also apart of Bishops’ duties as campus coordinator.

Bishop said the policy would need to be passed at an administrative level so it will prevent DU from “selling or distributing bottled water.”

If this initiative becomes a policy, then DU’s contract with Pepsi will be changed to exclude water. This contract will expire at the end of the year 2013, allowing Take Back the Tap to potentially go into full effect in 2014.

Expanding Take Back the Tap
The idea of banning soda pop and juice plastic bottles has been tossed around, but it doesn’t seem likely that it will happen.

Bishop said that it is difficult to create an alternative means for students to consume these types of drinks.

Mason said, “I think this [Take Back the Tap] is a result of sustainability actions. I think this is one of many that have kind of been going on. But I think that it will further kind of branch into a different type of sustainability as it has been in the past few years.”

One Response to Decreasing plastic water bottle use

  • Ann Monaghan
    Ann Monaghan says:

    I really liked this video! I think you all chose a really great subject and good interviewees. You communicated your message and your story well through your editing and used good b-roll. Overall, awesome job!

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