Mississauga - November 7, 2011 - September marked the beginning of a bottle-free school for the University of Toronto. Bottled water is no longer being sold or distributed in most places on the University of Toronto campus.
Leanne Rasmussen is one of the co-coordinators of the Public Water Initiative (PWI) at the University of Toronto.
“It does not prevent people from bringing it themselves, but rather just will no longer be available on campus,” said Rasmussen.
There are a many different reasons why the PWI campaigned to end the sale and distribution of bottled water, she says.
“The biggest one being the issues involved with the privatization of an essential public resource like water,” said Rasmussen. “Tap water is safe, clean, affordable, accessible, and much more environmentally friendly than bottled water.”
For three years the PWI has been campaigning to end bottled water sales at the University of Toronto. The university has stopped ordering it this school year, so when the remaining inventory runs out, it'll be gone.
“We're hoping that this will get the University of Toronto community to think critically about the choice between tap and bottled water,” said Rasmussen, “After becoming more familiar with the issues involved, they'll make the switch to tap water that will last longer than just their time here at the university.”
This past March, surveys were distributed to students for Bottled Water Free Day. It asked students their opinions on the university getting rid of bottled water.
“87 per cent of students were in favour of it,” said Rasmussen.
Instead of buying bottled water U of T students are encouraged to fill up their reusable canteens, glasses, or jugs at a fountain, or a water bottle refill station. Those are located near where students would have purchased bottled water.
“We hope it will help the U of T community learn more about water issues, and that it will facilitate their decision to switch to, or continue drinking, tap water,” said Rasmussen.
U of T is not the only school that has removed bottled water. Ryerson, Winnipeg University and Brandon University are just a few. Many schools throughout the United States have similar policies.
There are many alternatives to bottled water available like “Tap Water,” the brand name for a reusable glass bottle made specifically to help cut down on the use bottled water.
Racquel Youtzy is the founder of ”Tap Water”. She created these bottles because she felt so strongly against bottled water and the negative impact they pose on our planet.
“I felt inspired to create something to reduce our negative impact on the environment that would be stylish enough that people would want to own it,” she said.
Youtzy devoted herself to finding out found out much about how harmful and wasteful plastic bottles are.
“I was shocked to learn that plastic bottles made up six percent of the largest concentration of litter on the planet,” said Youtzy. “Some of it can be seen from space and is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Youtzy.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about the size of Texas and contains almost 3.5 million tons of trash. This pile of trash is floating between Hawaii and San Francisco.
“Bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump,” said greatgarbagepatch.org.
“Tap Water” bottles are made of glass for several reasons. Glass is how liquids used to be packaged in the 80’s, such as bottled milk. Glass is trusted because it doesn’t have any chemicals that would seep into the water like plastic and metal bottles. Glass is also completely recyclable unlike a plastic water bottle that takes about 450 years to decompose.
Youtzy has successfully created a safe and affordable alternative to bottled water and hopes that more people will switch to this method of drinking water.
“Water is not unlimited in supply. The more we waste, the less there will be for future generations,” said Youtzy.
“We only have one world and we need to treat it with love.”