On my first day back on campus, I went to Pop’s to get lunch, which mostly consisted of waiting in an unending line and complaining about said long line. When it was finally my turn, imagine my surprise when I asked for a bottle of water, and I was told I could not have one. At first, I was very confused, but then saw the sign explaining that bottled water would not be sold on campus anymore, except in the residence hall vending machines. Far be it for me to argue that we need to have bottled water on campus. I know that bottled water is wasteful, bad for the environment and easy to do away with. However, why stop at water?
Pop’s, Old Main Café and the C-Store still offer tons of drinks in plastic bottles such as juice, Powerade and Vitamin Water. Why take away the healthy drink available in plastic bottles (water), and leave sugary, unhealthy drinks such as Coca Cola, which has 240 calories or Minute Maid Apple Juice that has 140 calories? I am unaware at this point whether water is just the beginning and there is already a plan underway to remove the remaining bottled drinks on campus. Otherwise, as a campus, we are only partially saving the environment at the cost of our health.
I propose a simple solution for making the loss of bottled water easier on students: introduce a water bottle checkout system at Old Main and the C-Store, similar to the coffee mug system already in place. With this plan, students can easily make the switch from plastic to something more sustainable without spending any money. Also, if the student body cannot do without their sugary drink fix, we should at least switch to glass bottles or install soda machines at Pop’s and Old Main like the ones in Mom’s and both dining halls. The College of Wooster has made an important shift in thinking consciously about being green with the water bottle change, but let’s not stop there. If we can do away with water, we can remove the soda, juice and sports drinks as well.
I greatly applaud the College’s efforts toward a greener, sustainable campus, but I wonder why we do not get rid of the bottled drinks in our vending machines? Perhaps the College has a contract with Coca Cola that is impossible to get out of for a few years, but hopefully the issue of bottled beverages in our vending machines will be addressed in the next couple of years. The important aspect of this water bottle change is that it becomes part of a series of continuing sustainable changes on campus, instead of a one-time deal. I look forward to seeing what the campus will do next, since we already have timed lights, solar panels on the Scot Center roof and now no more plastic water bottles. Our campus can only get better as long as we continue to look for areas to change or improve.