All Posts Tagged With: "bottled water"
These things annoy Prof. Pettigrew far more
Last week I wrote that banning bottled water from universities was environmentally sensitivity gone too far. I hinted that there were other things much worse, and if we are going to start banning things, water should be way down on our list. Just to show that I am not entirely a spoil-sport when it comes to forbidding things, I offer 10 other things that I would rather see disappear.
1. Cheap cologne. While cheap perfume for women seems to be on the decline, cheap cologne for men seems to be making a comeback. Bottom line: I don’t want to smell you. Period.
2. Asking a professor where another professor is or when another professor will be back. It’s always the same: student arrives at Professor Hallcross’s door and knocks. No answer. Knocks again. No answer. Comes to my door: “do you know where Professor Hallcross is?” No. How would I know? Do you think we professors have some kind of universal academic GPS? Do you think I have a magic map showing his footprints moving through the Hufflepuff common room?
3. Non-specific email help requests. EG: “I don’t understand the assignment you gave us. Can you explain it?” No, because I don’t know what course you are in, which assignment you mean, or what part of it you don’t understand.
4. Pretending you didn’t know plagiarism was wrong. You cheated. You got caught. At least own up to it.
5. Walking in large groups slowly down the hall. Some of us have places to be. And for that matter, don’t you have somewhere to be? The library? Class?
6. Doing homework from one class in another class. You’re missing my thoughtful comments on Oscar Wilde, and I’m distracting you from memorizing brain anatomy. Why bother?
7. Asking what you need to do to pass the course after the course is more than half over. Think back to the beginning of class and you’ll recall that I told you what to do to pass the course…
8. Asking for a higher grade so that you can keep your scholarship or get into a program you want to get into. Those scholarship and admissions committees rely on me to let them know how you’ve done. If I raise your grade to the line they have set, it defeats the purpose of the line.
9. Bird courses. If there’s no way a student can try hard and still fail, then it’s not a serious course. This is mostly the fault of professors, but hey students, don’t feed the birds! Challenge yourselves.
10. Asking your course adviser which profs are the “good” ones. I don’t know what you think a good prof is. Do you mean funny? Conscientious? Easy grader? And even if I did know what you were looking for, I don’t see other professors in the classroom. Most times I don’t know if they’re what you’re looking for. Even if I did, I’m not going to bad mouth my colleagues. Well, except one.
Once we’ve gotten rid of all these things, then you can talk to me about water.
Pettigrew: It’s only water and plastic. Let’s all take a breath.
Another university, this time Toronto, has announced a ban on bottled water, continuing what must be the most overblown crusade since, well, the actual Crusades.
It’s hard to think of another product where the campaign against it is so out of proportion to the potential harm. Unlike smoking cigarettes — which was banned from professors’ offices when I was an undergraduate — drinking water is not unhealthy in itself. Just the reverse: it’s a vital nutrient. Moreover, unlike smoking, consuming water indoors doesn’t put anyone’s health in jeopardy.
Advocates for the water bans say that bottled water is wasteful because one can get water from taps, which is, of course, true. But if eliminating waste is the issue, why stop — or indeed start — with bottled water? Why not ban cars from campus in favour of bikes? Why not ban paper cups? Why not ban paper textbooks and force students to save paper by reading only electronic versions?
Indeed, if waste is the issue, why focus on a product so eminently recyclable? Are there universities in Canada where plastic bottles aren’t recyclable? And if the problem is that people aren’t being diligent about which bin they’re putting their empties in, the solution should be to convince people of the merits of careful recycling rather than banning a recyclable product.
But even if I conceded that bottled water were a bad thing in itself, and even if I agreed that people were entirely incorrigible when it comes to distinguishing types of garbage, it seems unlikely that a bottled-water ban will help. While it’s nice to imagine that in the absence of bottled water, all the water drinkers will have refillable bottles with them at all times, I think it’s just as likely that those who had been drinking bottled water will bring bottled water from home, or switch to other drinks like cola and iced tea which, by the way, also come in bottles, and are less healthy than water to boot.
I’m not arguing against bringing your own refillable container if that’s your thing. Save money, reduce waste, and feel superior. And start an advertising campaign to encourage others to do likewise if you want. Point out that bottled water may be a thousand times more expensive than tap water, that municipal water supplies may actually be safer than bottled water because they are monitored more closely. Point out that a lot of bottled water is essentially just tap water anyway.
But we have crossed a line when when what seems like a good idea to some becomes a necessity for all. If you don’t like bottled water, don’t buy it. And try to convince others not to buy it.
But don’t insist that I can’t buy it either.
Three-year project will include water fountain upgrades
Concordia University has announced a plan to remove bottled water from vending machines on campus.
The school intends to retrofit or replace the majority of water fountains on campus, over the next three years, so that they’ll be better for filling reusable bottles. Once the first stage of the upgrade is completed, around a year from now, bottled water will be pulled from vending machines.
“This is not only about bottled water but is consistent with the university’s values of promoting responsible sustainability practices,” acting vice-president, services, Roger Côté said in the university’s press release. “It’s the next step in Concordia’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the quality of life of the community in which we live.”
You might remember that there was a bit of a brouhaha a few months back, when Concordia re-signed an exclusive contract with Pepsi. A student threatened to sue the university and its former acting president, after the school allegedly broke a promise to consult with campus environmental groups before signing a new beverage deal. Those threats don’t appear to have gone anywhere, some lawyers letters may have been sent but I’ve been unable to find anything filed with the courts. The student in question, Laura Beach, was recently elected to the university’s board of governors. The Pepsi contract allows the university to decide whether bottled water will be sold in vending machines.
Concordia isn’t the first Quebec university to restrict the sale of bottled water on campus, a ban at Bishop’s University went into effect last fall. According to the Polaris Institute, 10 universities across Canada have banned the sale of bottled water on campus.
Movement to ban bottled water a campaign against ‘corporatization’
A Concordia student says she will be pursuing legal action against the university for breach of trust after the school re-signed an exclusive contract with Pepsi.
Laura Beach claims that the school promised to consult with campus environmental groups before signing any deal related to beverage sales. However the school says the new deal allows for bottled water to be banned and that students, including Beach, have been invited to participate in the working group that is looking into that issue.
The specific details of the suit are unclear, as of Monday nothing had yet been filed at the Montreal courthouse.
Beach has been one of the most visible proponents of banning bottled water here at Concordia. Last Wednesday a handful of students protested a meeting between Nestlé Waters and Concordia. According to Nestlé the meeting was “on a point of principle,” the company wasn’t seeking Concordia’s business, instead they were lobbying against a bottled water ban. They have also written letters to student newspapers on this issue.
But the issue goes deeper than water.
“What started as a campaign to kick bottled water off campus is growing into a fight to reclaim student control and bring a more accountable and transparent process to school administration,” said Beach in a press release put out by her new group, Campus Against Corporatization. “We don’t just want a ban on bottled water, we want an open dialogue with the student body for all decisions that affect their campus.”
The real issue here isn’t what soft drink brands are available on campus it’s about what kind of relationships universities should have with corporations and how much say students should have in those deals. At least at Concordia, students have little to no input on deals with corporations, whether they’re for computers, advertising, food service or cola and I’d hazard a guess that the situation is similar at most universities in the country.
What’s even more concerning than the lack of consultation is the secrecy surrounding these deals. Concordia wouldn’t even tell reporters who signed the new deal with Pepsi on behalf of the university – let alone what’s actually in the contract.
Universities are going to have deals with corporations, that’s unavoidable. And with university finances the way they are in Canada corporate offers will likely be even more appealing for universities, but the question of how much input students should have in the decision making process is an important one. It’s a question that cuts to the heart of one of the most important discussions surrounding Canadian universities right now: what is the nature of universities and what relationship should they have with their students?
Are university students just customers of semi-private companies? Or does the term “university community” actually refer to a real community?
Long term effects of bottled-water bans are unclear and concerning
Over the summer, Bishop’s University, became the first university in Quebec to ban the sale of bottled water on campus. And there’s a good chance that Concordia, Quebec’s largest English-language university, will follow suit. But is an outright ban on bottled water really the way to go?
Now, I’m no fan of bottled water, I know that plastic bottles are bad for the environment and it’s a huge rip-off. The bottled water sold at Concordia is just regular old Montreal tap water. I’d much rather bring a reusable water bottle and save the 2,000 per cent markup. Pepsi pays the city $2 for every 1,000 liters, according to CBC. That’s less than one cent per bottle.
But, while I’m not going to be buying bottled water myself, I’m not sure that an outright ban is such a good idea. There still are a lot of unanswered questions about the long-term effects these bans will have.
Will banning bottled water lead to increased consumption of other bottled beverages, like pop and sports drinks? The anti-bottled water advocates claim “there is no evidence to suggest that without bottled water, people will consume unhealthy beverages such as colas.” The problem is these bans are all extremely new. Sure there’s no evidence that they will. But there’s no evidence that they won’t. The quote above comes from a study at the University of Winnipeg released before a bottled water ban was even fully implemented.
It’s quite likely that students who say forget to bring a reusable bottle — or who don’t want to — now don’t have the choice and are forced to purchase unhealthy drinks. I’ve definitely been in the situation where I haven’t had a reusable bottle with me and I’ve bought a bottle of something, not because that’s what I wanted to drink but because I wanted something to fill up with tap water and, anecdotally, I’ve heard similar stories from other students.
Bottled water bans have often been coupled with the distribution of reusable bottles, but this also raises some issues. Several years ago students attending an orientation event put on by the Concordia Student Union were required to buy reusable coffee mugs for their beer (the mugs were sold for something like $1). After the event the street was littered with reusable mugs.
While hard numbers are hard to pin down, it takes somewhere between 500 and 1,000 uses for a reusable mug to have less of an environmental impact than a disposable one. Certainly the numbers would be different for water but the fact remains that reusable bottles require a lot of use for them to have less of an environmental impact than disposable ones. Think of how much more plastic or metal goes into the manufacture of a reusable bottle.
And if we’re banning bottled water because of the environmental impact of plastic bottles shouldn’t we be banning everything else that comes in plastic bottles? A bottle of cola is just as bad as a bottle of water. So where do we go from here? What’s going to be banned on campus next?
Bishop’s University becomes first in Quebec to ban bottled water, as part of growing national trend
Bishop’s University has become the first university in Quebec to follow a growing national trend, by banning the sale of single use bottled water on campus. Last year, a group of students started an initiative called “Think Global, Drink Local” to draw attention to the environmental impact of bottled water. Three quarters of students who participated in a March referendum voted for the ban.
The university cites discarded bottles, the carbon footprint left by transporting bottled water, and the fact that each plastic bottle requires twice its volume in water to make, as reasons for the move. Bishop’s will also be phasing out the use of 18 liter water coolers, and water fountains will be upgraded to include a spout designed to fill reusable water containers.
For those keeping score, Bishop’s brings the tally to at least nine universities and colleges that have banned or are planning to ban the sale of bottled water. Others include: the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, Queen’s University, Ryerson University, University of Ottawa, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Trent University, and Fleming College.
-Photo by Cesar Vivas
And, in other news, “paternalism” is the new “freedom of thought”
Because you shouldn’t make your own decisions, Principal Daniel Woolf of Queen’s University has pledged to eliminate the choice for you.
According to the university’s website, Woolf plans to end the sale of bottled water on campus within five years. This news comes as relief to thousands of head-scratching Queen’s students who regularly hold up concession lines. (“Coke, or Dasani?! I just can’t decide!)
A plan is to be drafted in the fall, which will include measures to improve access to communal drinking fountains. The initiative has also been championed for providing the opportunity for university administrators to print ambiguous, feel-good phrases and socio-academic buzz words:
The need for ongoing education to foster sustainable and holistic attitudes about water conservation on campus has also been identified [as part of the plan].
The Queen’s announcement comes after Ryerson University pledged last month to become the first bottled water free campus in Ontario. In related news, a collaborative study is to be released from both universities, proving that self-motivated change is more persuasive than imposed accommodation.
Ivana Zelenka, sustainability commissioner of the Society of Graduate and Professional Students, commented on Woolf’s initiative on the Queen’s website. “Principal Woolf’s commitment to sustainability initiatives on campus has truly been amazing and sets up a fertile ground for future collaborations and projects that are bound to move Queen’s University even higher on the sustainability ladder,” she said.
Future Queen’s plans include imposing a “Say Your Prayers and Eat Your Vitamins Day,” and removing all coloured paper options from campus photocopy machines.
Plastic containers condemned
On March 11, 2010, I was duped.
Yes, the collaborative efforts of the Canadian Federation of Students, the Sierra Youth Coalition, and the Polaris Institute got me.
Apparently, “Bottled Water Free Day” is nothing as it sounds. I know; I was shocked too! Not only did I not get my free bottle of water, but I found out that the very cap I untwist to seek refreshment can unearth a Pandora’s box of campus sin!
Defeated and embarrassed, I went home to mull over my misstep.
What was I missing? Clearly, Evian and Nestle were up to something dire; why else would student leaders be using my fees to campaign for something completely not student related?
Then I saw the press release: “Ryerson pledges to be first bottled water free campus in Ontario.”
OK, OK, something’s definitely going on; or else, why would my university pledge to eliminate all bottled water from campus? A band-aid move that reeks of appeasement? When everyone knows that prohibition will only create resentment? And that the way to get people to really align with your views is through reasoned argument and persuasion, not mandating its acceptance?
I stared at my half-empty Dasani. Oh, you’re trouble, aren’t you? That’s why my university has decided to stunt one of our few healthy consumer trends. Why the Ryerson Student Union has suddenly been granted the right to decide what others can purchase on campus?
Finally, after hours of reflection, I’m down to three possible conclusions:
• Bottled water was the root cause of the 5-3 upset suffered by the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team to the United States in Vancouver this past February
• The grooves on many water bottles somehow serve as capitalist symbols
• Bottled water is responsible for high tuition fees
-Photo by Cesar Vivas
Majority of students recently voted in favour of ditching water sold in bottles
The University of Winnipeg will become the first university in Canada to ban the sale of bottled water on campus, the school announced today.
Related: The bottled water conspiracy theory
According to the university, the bottles will be phased out of vending machines and cafeterias over the next few months, and will be totally eliminated by Fall 2009.
The school plans to audit its water system to make sure all fountains and taps provide safe, clean water, and that there will be enough access to water for all students.
More than 38,000 bottles of water are currently sold on its campus every year.
With the support of the Canadian Federation of Students, every first-year student will be provided with a free, reusable water bottle, according to the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association.
In a referendum held last week, three-quarters of students voted to eliminate the sale of bottled water. The students’ association also recently voted to ban the bottles, which environmental groups say are a terrible pollutant.
“The fact that we have joined with our [school's] administration and taken ownership over our environmental impact on campus sends a strong message across the country,” said student association president Vinay Iyer in a press release.
University president Lloyd Axworthy told The Canadian Press the ban is part of a growing awareness around the world about the importance of accessible water.
He says the university is happy to reduce needless plastics on campus.