This is a really interesting issue — the real-world impact of “virtual” consumption (which feels so harmless!).
The University of Portland has recently banned the sale of bottled water on its campus stating both ethical and environmental reasons for the action. They’ve replaced disposable plastic bottles with multi-use stainless-steel bottles which they hope will encourage a campus-wide use of the local water system.
Speaking on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud this morning, a UP representative explained:
“We’ve banned the sale of disposable plastic water bottles on campus for several reasons. One reason is that we consider water to be a human right and not a commodity…that water is so important and so crucial that it shouldn’t be allowed to become a commodity that just is bought and sold to the highest bidder. So we wanted to move away from that.”
Bottling water also has really significant environmental impacts both locally where you remove the water from but also in terms of the petro-chemicals needed to produce the plastic water bottles, the transportation of the water by truck…there’s a large environmental footprint to doing this. And really the water coming out of the tap, the water coming out of our drinking fountains is tested to a higher quality than bottled water is. We have, here in Portland, some of the best water in the world.”
We sold tens of thousands of bottled water in an academic year. We’re now providing…stainless steel water bottles for not a whole lot more money than a couple of bottles of disposable water in plastic bottles. And so, students are buying stainless steel bottles and filling them up.”
The full interview is available at the OPB website: Water: From the Bottle or the Tap? Think Out Loud - Oregon Public Broadcasting
Similarly today, Boing Boing linked up an interesting video describing the ‘manufactured demand’ of bottled water: The Story of Bottled Water - Boing Boing