A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Moving beyond bottled water

As part of MPIRG at Augsburg’s sustainability awareness month, Augsburg is following in other MPIRG campus’ footsteps and working to ban the sales of bottled water on campus. Bottled water is harmful for many reasons ranging from issues surrounding the environment, health, economics and social equality. Not allowing this unjust product to be sold on our college campuses could be the first step to eliminating the bottled water industry.

Environmentally, plastic water bottles create more waste than a reusable water bottle filled with tap water. An astonishing 85% of plastic water bottles do not make it into the recycling bin, and rather sit in our landfills for years. It also takes millions of barrels of oil to make the plastic for a year’s worth of water bottles in the United States. This oil count isn’t even including the transportation necessary for the water to get from the point of creation to your door. This releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere yearly. Also, the plastic these bottles are made out of include toxic chemicals that can potentially leak into the water that the consumer is drinking out of the bottle.

A common misconception may lead you to believe that bottled water is healthier for you, but in truth, it can be much worse. As stated above, toxins from the plastic bottle can leak into the water. It is not, however, only the chemicals in the bottles that poses a risk to your health. The water that comes from one’s tap is controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency, and held to high safety standards. Individual companies that distribute water are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration, and held to less rigorous standards which allow more bacteria and other harmful products into your drinking water.

Bottled water is also economically unjust. Bottled water can cost five hundred times more than tap water. This leads to a problem with accessibility. Bottled water companies are turning water, a human necessity, into a commodity. Bottled water companies have continually sold water at a market price, rather than a price that all people can afford. No company, person, or entity should own water. Basic needs such as water should be accessible to everyone at a fair price.

With all these issues surrounding bottled water, it is to no one’s surprise that so many MPIRG campuses are tackling the issue. Macalester College, one of our chapter schools, has already successfully banned the sale of bottled water on their campus. MPIRG chapters at not only Augsburg, but also University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Minnesota Morris, and Hamline all have similar Ban the Bottle campaigns running on their campus this year. Hopefully, these campuses will start a statewide, and then national, trend of banning the sale of bottled water on college campuses, teaching young people that bottled water is an unnecessary commodity.

Written by BreAnna Bemboom

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