Bootin’ the bottle
Student campaign helps others ditch their bottled-water habits
When Chico State student Desi Hatton noticed her classmates bringing reusable water bottles to class, she figured some of her message is starting to take hold.
Hatton, along with fellow student Deanna Dottai, is spearheading a campus project connected to a national campaign called Take Back the Tap. Both have been speaking to classes about the environmental impacts of single-use bottled water and promoting tap-water consumption.
“I’m just excited to get people thinking and re-examining their habits,” Hatton said.
According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles head to the landfill rather than the recycling plant. And the waste doesn’t stop there. For the U.S. market alone, CRI estimates that it takes 1.5 million barrels of oil each year to make the containers. That statistic doesn’t count the fossil fuels used to ship it.
Bottled water is also extremely expensive to purchase, considering a typical individual serving (about 12 ounces) costs more than $1.
Hatton noted that tap water is actually safer to drink than its bottled counterpart due to stricter regulations for municipalities than for out-of-state water distributors. Still, some people simply refuse to drink from the tap.
“It’s just an issue with lack of education on the subject,” said Dottai, who has also seen an increase in reusable bottles in her classes after her presentations.
A chlorinated taste is what keeps some from the tap, which is why she has been working to provide the student body with a long-term solution—free filtered water.
Last week, Dottai’s efforts paid off when the Associated Students facilities management retrofitted three drinking fountains in the student-owned Bell Memorial Union with special filters and spigots where students can fill up with distilled water. (The Aqua Pure filters were donated by a company called Cuno.)
Adding more incentive, Dottai and Hatton regularly spend time in the free speech area, dispersing coupons that allow students to purchase Klean Kanteens at a discount from the Associated Students Bookstore, which is reimbursed through funds allocated by a special A.S. sustainability fund. While the truth about bottled water is catching on, Dottai said she’s still got her work cut out for her.
“We’ve actually talked to a lot of people who didn’t know how bad bottled water was,” she said.