UO Think Before you Drink

The Issue with Bottled Water

The Think Before You Drink, Go Refillable campaign at the University of Oregon is an attempt to reduce the amount of waste generated by plastic water bottles every day. The University of Oregon 's Recycling Program has recognized the vast amounts of disposable bottles in the recycling bins and the trash as well.

Buying individually packaged water does not guarantee better or safer water. A study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that 40% of bottled water came from a city water system, just like tap water. When we buy bottled water we pay for the plastic, refrigeration, and transportation, not the purity of the water itself. In fact, the majority of tap water is cleaner that what you buy in bottles! One test found that 22% of bottled water brands contain chemical contaminants above state limits (NRDC.org). EWEB, our local water provider, has never violated State or Federal regulations for water quality (EWEB.org). All of this plastic has created huge amounts of unnecessary waste and will sit in our landfills for hundreds of years! Buying bottled water does not guarantee you clean water, but simply paying your water bill does because the city of Eugene has some of the best water in the country!

When you use a refillable container, you save money and energy. The amount of energy Americans waste on bottled water could power 190,000 homes! When you make the choice to use a refillable container you save money and the environment. Keeping plastic out of our streets, fields, rivers, and oceans makes a huge difference for everything living in that ecosystem. You also support your local water system and reduce the transportation costs of your water. Think before you drink! Go Refillable!

The UO Zero Waste Program has been working hard to bring the bottled water issue to the attention of the administration in hopes of a campus bottled water ban, a ban on bottled water for all campus catered events and also installation of refill spouts on all water spigots. As of 2010, the University has installed 40 refill spigots on existing drinking fountains and now Campus catering offers a free urn of water with a campus catered event (with compostable cups). Additionally, there is now an inventory of all campus drinking fountains and language is included in the new campus construction standards that mandate refill spouts be installed with all new and replacement drinking fountains.

The Students at the University of Oregon have been working to further develop procedures such that student groups will no longer be able to purchase bottled water for student program events as a foundation for getting the administration's attention to take it further and ban bottled water as has been done at campuses nationwide. Additionally, The UO Zero Waste Program has created a "Free Bottled Water" sign that is affixed to drinking fountains campus wide in order to create awareness that our drinking water is some of the best in the country.

In the meantime, the UO Zero Waste Program received a grant, from the local utility, for stainless steel water bottles to utilize for education. The Program has a list of questions on small placards that are used for tabling. The Program does tabling at events such as Earthday, Campus Sustainability Day and at other random events. Students come to the table and have to answer and discuss 3 questions about world water and bottled water. Then we ask them to sign a pledge not to buy or drink bottled water and they get a free stainless steel water bottle.

BOTTLED WATER PLEDGE
Take Back the Tap!
I pledge to immediately stop purchasing and consuming bottled water.
Instead, I will drink tap water from a refillable container in order to promote global environmental health
and encourage others to do the same. In doing so,
I will reduce my carbon footprint and overall environmental impact by refusing
to support unsustainable industry that wastes natural resources, privatizes the essential right to
clean water, and contributes to global warming. I pledge to Take Back the Tap!

 

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BOTTLED VS. TAP TASTE TEST

For awhile when the UO Zero Waste Program started this campaign, participants were also asked to do a bottled vs. tapped water taste test. Though this was a great idea, small compostable cups were used. The staff tried to keep track of which was a sample of tap and which was a sample of bottled water. After doing this activity for a year, the Program determined that it was wasting cups and was messy so no longer do we do a bottled vs. tap taste test. Mostly people immediately tasted the plastic and knew that sample was bottled water. In essence, the questions have been much more informative.

FILM SHOWINGS

The Program has been showing films related to world water issues and have this promotional tabling at the event. Ads in the newspaper and on the campus radio have been effective as has been the refillable stainless steel water bottle giveaway.

Suggested films on world water issues:
    Tapped the movie
    Blue Gold
    Flow
    Waterfront


True or False Questions for Bottled Water PDF


 

FREE BOTTLED WATER CAMPAIGN QUESTIONS

TRUE OR FALSE?

Across the globe, aquifers are being exploited faster than they are able to recharge.

(TRUE)

(http://www.water.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Less than 5% of the world's freshwater is readily accessible for human consumption.

(FALSE-less than 1%)

(http://www.water.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Worldwide, nearly 1 billion people lack access to fresh drinking water. This is nearly 1 out of every 6 people on the planet.

(http://www.water.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Globally, 1 out of 3 people lack access to effective sanitation systems.

(TRUE)

(http://www.water.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

In 2005, plastic water bottles alone accounted for over 1 million pounds of material being shipped to landfills.

(FALSE- 2 million pounds)

(http://www.nrdc.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Tap water is regulated by the EPA, and bottled water by the FDA.

(TRUE)

(http://www.epa.gov/safe water)

TRUE OR FALSE?

Approximately 25% of bottled water is just tap water put into a plastic bottle.

(TRUE)

(http://www.nrdc.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

A study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council found contaminants in 10% of the bottled water brands that were tested.

(FALSE- 22% were contaminated)

(http://www.nrdc.org)

TRUE OR FALSE?

In 2006, an estimated 3,800 tons of global warming pollution was generated from the shipment of plastic water bottles to New York City alone.

(TRUE)

(http://www.nrdc.org)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Dish, shower, sink, and laundry water comprises 50-80% of residential waste water.

(http://www.oasisdesign.net)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Grey water systems conserve water resources and are safe to use.

(TRUE. There are 8 million grey water systems in the U.S. with 22 million users and in 60 years there has not been a single documented case of grey water transmitted illness.)

(http://www.oasisdesign.net)

 

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Grey water separation and use could conserve 10-20% of drinkable water.

(FALSE- 25-40%)

(http://interests.caes.uga.edu/drought/

articles/gwlands.htm)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Bottled water is the fastest growing drink choice in the U.S.

(TRUE)

(http://www.epa.gov/safe water/faq/pdfs)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

“Purified water” means that bottled water is free of microbes.

(FALSE- “Purified” means that the water has been treated to remove chemicals and pathogens, but is not necessarily free of microbes.

(http://www.epa.gov/safe water/faq/pdfs)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Bottled water accounts for

one-third of the municipal waste stream in the U.S.

(TRUE)

(http://www.epa.gov)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

The oil and energy used each year for U.S. consumption of plastic water bottles is enough to fuel 1 million cars.

(TRUE)

(The Story of Bottled Water)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

A study by the Environmental Working Group showed that only 5% of the 200 brands of bottled that were analyzed chose to disclose the water's source, the purification methods, and the chemical pollutants in each bottle.

(FALSE- less than 2%)

(http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/13/bottled.water.safety/index.html)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Unlike tap water suppliers, bottled water companies are not required to notify consumers within 24 hours if they find elevated levels of contaminants.

(TRUE)

(http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/13/bottled.water.safety/index.html)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

Bottled water is more expensive per gallon than gasoline.

(TRUE)

(mnn.com)

 

TRUE OR FALSE?

In Michigan , Nestle received a $9.6 million tax break to site a bottled water plant, while more than 20,000 families in Detroit had their water shut off when they were unable to pay for it and the state refused to offer subsidies.

(TRUE)

(sierraclub.org)