University of Vermont to End Sales of Bottled Water

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The University of Vermont will be ending the sale of bottled water on campus as of January 2013, according to a release today from University Communications. This news comes just five months before the end of a contract with Coca-Cola which stipulated that the beverage company would provide 100% of the drinks sold in vending machines and 80% served in retail and dining halls.

Across campus, drinking fountains will be converted into water bottle filling stations, to make the transition easier for students to adapt to only carrying reusable bottles with them instead of disposables.

“This change has been student-driven,” says Gioia Thompson, director of the Office of Sustainability. “Students advocating for an end to sales of bottled water have dedicated many hours over the past four years encouraging fellow students to change their habits and persuading administrators to foster a more sustainable beverage system for the community.”

It will become one of only 15 institutions to implement a ban like this, and in addition to the ban the school will require that 1/3 of all drinks offered in vending machines be healthy options. Back in 2009, Bundanoon, Australia became the first town to ban bottled water, and in 2010 Concord, Massachusetts also decided to ban water sold plastic bottles. Hopefully we will start seeing more of these bans, as the plastic problem keeps getting bigger and bigger.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • American tap water is among the safest in the world.
  • As much as 40% of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is just filtered tap water anyway. Be sure to check the label and look for “from a municipal source” or “community water system”, which just means it is tap water.
  • Tap water costs about $0.002 per gallon compared to the $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon charge for bottled water. If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.

If you’re thinking of ditching plastic disposables, check out my post How to Choose a Reusable Water Bottle for some tips.

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