Dartmouth environmental studies sophomore: “The product just doesn’t make common sense.”
More than 90 schools, among them Brown University and Harvard University are banning the sale or restricting the use of plastic water bottles, unnerving the $22 billion retail packaged-water industry in the U.S. The University of Vermont is the latest to join the movement, announcing in January it would stop sales early next year.
A forklift moves bails of plastic bottles at the San Francisco Recycling Center. More than 9 billion gallons of bottled water were sold in the U.S. last year. The industry is growing 5.4 percent annually.
Discarded water bottles lay in a trash can in Washington, D.C. Students at Brown, in Providence, Rhode Island, started a campaign to reduce bottled water consumption in 2010 and more than a dozen U.S. schools have campus-wide bans on the sale of plastic water bottles.
Freshmen at colleges across the country are being greeted with stainless-steel bottles in their welcome packs and encouraged to use hydration stations where free, filtered water is available. Brown, which used to sell about 320,000 bottles of water a year in vending machines and campus stores, ended sales in dining halls in 2010. Harvard and Dartmouth College are installing hydration stations in new buildings to reduce trash.
“The product just doesn’t make common sense,” Sarah Alexander, 20, an environmental-studies major at Hanover, New Hampshire-based Dartmouth, said by e-mail. “Companies are taking something that is freely accessible to everyone on the Dartmouth campus, packaging it in a non-reusable container and then selling it under the pretense that it is somehow better than tap water”…