Recently there was an initiative in the Associated Students Elections addressing the sale of bottled water on campus. As the results have not yet been released, I am unsure of whether it has passed or not. [Editor’s note: The Water Bottle Initiative passed with a 73 percent vote.] However, this letter is to advocate for a ban of selling bottled water on campus.
To begin, there are several reasons why bottled water is unsustainable both economically and environmentally.
Speaking from an economical standpoint, bottled water is an invention solely for profit by corporations. It takes a natural resource, which is available to every student in Bellingham for free, and puts a price tag on it. This price tag is exponentially higher than the realistic cost, therefore making it a commodity, not a right.
Furthermore, this ties into the ethical reasoning for a ban. Clean, safe water is a basic human need and also a right. It should not be a commodity to buy, a privilege for those who can afford it or something that should be privatized.
From an environmental standpoint, the creation of polyethylene bottles requires far more resources than the lifespan of the actual product is worth. Two kilograms of oil for energy and raw materials produces about one kilogram of polyethylene.
Also, about three liters of water are used to create a one liter-sized water bottle. Though these are basic statistics about the production, it represents the input of energy required for such a short-lived product.
Western should not endorse the sale of bottled water on campus, if not solely for the economic and environmental implications.
I feel that a better alternative is to strongly advocate for the use of water fountains and for students to bring reusable water bottles.
Submitted by Leah Boam.
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