Universities not bottling it
One of the things I didn’t know until recently is that universities and colleges account for quite an astounding percentage of the sale of bottled water – in particular water sold in small bottles. These (almost invariably plastic) bottles in turn have become a major environmental issue: it would not be so if the bottles were all consistently recycled, but those sold in universities almost always are not.
There are of course many solutions to this, including the use of water fountains (although these often involve plastic glasses with similar issues), encouraging people to use tap water, setting up proper and convenient recycling bins, and so forth. But for now, on most campuses thousands of bottles are sold and then discarded – if we are lucky, in some litter bin, or quite often just thrown away at random.
Now in the United States a number of universities have banned the sale of bottled water this autumn in order to tackle this environmental problem. We should probably be considering something similar here, and also use the occasion to look again more generally at the environmental impact of what we do. Universities are educators, employers and businesses, and environmentally conscious programmes initiated there tend to have a disproportionate effect. It’s time to act responsibly.
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