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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Campus Environmental groups Gear up for Water Bottle Battle

Take a look around you, and count the number of plastic water bottles you see. You know the type—the clear disposables that seem to be just about everywhere. If environmental groups have their way, though, that’s about to change. Green student groups around campus are rallying behind a number of propositions that will ultimately eliminate bottled water from the campus altogether.

“The first goal is to remove bottled water from the outtakes,” said Zafreen Farishta ’13, one of the leaders of the ‘Take Back the Tap’ campaign on the Grinnell campus. Those bottles given with your meals constitute one of the largest sources of bottled water on campus—and they’re entirely unnecessary, according to Farishta.

But hold on a moment. Just what’s so bad about bottled water, anyway? It’s clean, doesn’t taste like rusty pipes, and you can always recycle the bottle, right? Actually, that’s not entirely true.

“Nearly 86 percent of plastic water bottles in the U.S. are not recycled,” said Farishta, who worked with Iowa’s Food and Water Watch last summer.

That’s a pretty sobering remark, especially if you take a look at those crates of water at the supermarket. And even if your bottle makes it to a recycling center, it still must transported there, which also produces pollution.

For these reasons, campus environmental groups pushed hard for a couple of changes. Now, the Spencer Grill is equipped with a cold water spigot that gives students an easy way to fill up a reusable water bottle with clean, cold water. The spigot was the result of a student initiative last semester.

“Giving students this option is a major step toward the potential elimination of bottled water on campus,” Farishta said.
What if you’re not near Spencer’s? No problem—tap water is actually much more heavily regulated than bottled water, which recent tests by the National Resources Defense Council found contained traces of arsenic and other pollutants.

In the long run, environmental groups say the fight against bottled water is just one step in Grinnell’s commitment to become sustainable and environmentally friendly and there are many ways for students get involved.

“We hope that interested students will contact us or attend SEC meetings to … become involved,” Farishta said.

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