Group educates students on single-use bottles

Story by Emily Gresbrink


Following The Forum presentation by Maude Barlow on Oct. 5, a small group of students saw a springboard in Barlow’s message. Shortly after, these students decided to apply the global water crisis issues discussed in Barlow’s presentation to campus.

The group, known as the Water Resources Coalition, is made up of a number of groups on campus, including experimental GE reform bundles, The Conservationists, an intern from the Office of Sustainability and the Progressive Student Association, said senior Aaron Brewster.

Within the motivated spirit of this group, around 15 to 20 students lay a number of incentives to help the UW-Eau Claire campus’ sustainability, including the education of students regarding proper recycling habits and even the potential to stop the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus.

Brewster said a big goal of the coalition is to touch on the way students use single-use bottles.

“We’re really trying to change the culture and attitude (towards single-use bottles). Carrying around a water bottle (you can reuse) is so much better for the environment, people’s pocketbooks and potentially their health.”

Money is another reason the WRC is taking a stand to get students motivated on the issue of single-use water bottles.

“Every student is interested in saving money, and if you buy one reusable container, you can make it last a long time and fill it up at the tap for free. It may be an initial investment, but it pays off,” senior Katrina Smith said.

Numbers are currently being collected in terms of how many single-use bottles are used on campus, in coordination with the Purchasing Office. Smith said they would like to start tracking it every six months or so and see what progress is made.

“Also, we have already started a petition and hope to get 1,000 to 2,000 signatures,” Smith said. “We think that will carry serious power if we were to bring it to the chancellor, and maybe then we could hold a referendum, to maybe switch over to aluminum and compostable containers.”

Larson will be presenting a proposal to the EEC today in hopes to move the purpose of the WRC forward into the upcoming semester and academic years. If the proposal is accepted, the group will spend the upcoming semester planning workshops and other projects for the 2011-12 academic year.

“(The project would hopefully) start a recycling awareness program for incoming freshman during CUBE fest,” Larson said. “Hopefully we could give stainless steel water bottles for incoming freshman so that they’d be less inclined to use plastic bottles.”

The WRC will be on the campus mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today to answer questions, offer a taste test between bottled and tap water, and bring further awareness to the issue.

“This is the largest group of students motivated towards an environmental issue that I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “The more people we have, the more things we can do.”

The WRC meets Thursday nights, location varying from week to week. For those interested in joining, contact Joy Larson at [email protected]