Purpose: The purpose of this project is to create, overtime, a campus that does not sell plastic water bottles
1. to phase out the sale of plastic water bottles on Dickinson College campus
2. to create a consumer culture amongst Dickinsonians that supports reusable water bottles
3. to promote the benefits, environmentally, economically, and socially, of tap water
This project requires no initial funding. The only funding we have considered asking for in the future is for the installation of another water bottle filling station. Also, funds to provide reusable water bottles to the incoming first-years beginning next fall.
We expect the individual consumer to save money because they are using a free service to get water rather than paying for water bottles. We expect the college to lose money. Water bottles will no longer be sold. This is a very unique product that sells well and is hard to replace. There is potential for replacing the physical space that water bottles took up with another equally demanded and more expensive product that could make this ban economically beneficial to the school. However, as of now, that product has not been identified. We have also considered potentially selling filled, reusable water bottles. People would then not be paying for water but for the service of having water in a bottle that they do not have to wash or carry with them. This could potentially be a way to generate money. However, this would be a separate project due to its complexity and required funds.
How does the phasing out of plastic water bottles benefit campus?
This initiative is a reflection of the Dickinson education. Water bottles connect many different areas of education. First, the privatization of water is a social justice issue. Water is claimed by a company that bottles it. Then consumers have to purchase it. However, these water sources have fed the cultures that exist around them for centuries. There are ties to the water because of its role it plays in existence. The people who depended on this water for existence now have to pay for it. In some areas, the people can’t afford the prices. This gives the power to decide who lives and who dies to water bottle companies. They are choosing that only those with money can exist on this planet.
Water bottles cause environmental issues. The water that flows through a place is sold elsewhere when it is a necessary part of the cycle that exists in that habitat. The water moves through this habitat, replenishing itself. When it is removed there is no replenishment. The ecosystem needs the water for life and it is gone. Also, plastic water bottles are an enormous source of waste. Plastics are made from synthesized chemicals that have no natural cycle to remove them from our environment. Therefore, they remain there as a pile of waste that has to sit in someone’s backyard and leech these chemicals.
Water bottles present an economic connection as well. We pay for a necessity when we buy water bottles. Meanwhile, a consumer can get it for free from any tap. Sink, shower, water fountain, all of these are free and often have water that is of higher quality than that in water bottles. When a consumer pays for a water bottle they pay a thousand times more for their water then they would if they drank from the tap. Also, an economist can recognize that there are no financial incentives for a water bottle company to consider the destruction they are causing. The only way to impact them without a change in policy is to change demand.
From a health, safety and policy point of view tap water is required to be carefully regulated and treated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Food and Drug administration inspects bottled water. They interpret requirements by the EPA and selectively apply them. They also put the responsibility of testing on the company. There is no incentive for the company to monitor the quality of their water. That means water can be taken from any unsuitable source. Tested water bottles have been found to have traces of toxic chemicals like arsenic and toluene.