I once learned in an environmental studies class that there is an area in the Pacific Ocean about the size of Texas that is filled with empty plastic bottles.
Yes, the entire state of Texas — just in bottles.
That fact has made me feel guilty ever since every time I throw away a bottle.
That’s why I was so excited to see our new bottle-filling stations to combat the amount of plastic waste we generate as a campus each day.
The first of these, located in Old Main, is easy to find and use.
One of my friends dragged me there only about two hours after it had been installed, and we could tell from the clever electronic dial that already 179 bottles had been filled.
By the end of the day, at least 500 had been saved from the landfill.
This initiative shows the power of an active Sustainability Office on campus.
The use and misuse of water is a very significant issue, and these fountains create such an easy way for everyone to make a considerable difference in terms of the planet.
That being said, the location of the station in Old Main is inconvenient for a large proportion of students who don’t have classes there, and more stations are definitely needed in a variety
The promotional video featuring Luke the Laker was super cute, but it does ironically show Luke waiting in line, which will definitely be the case if the stations aren’t more diversified.
Furthermore, we are a little behind the times here.
My high school has had water bottle fountains for as long as I can remember, and most of my friends said the same.
I believe there is still a long way to go, but Mercyhurst is definitely on the right track in terms of sustainability and waste prevention.
In fact, last year Duke University brought in a similar initiative with 50 reusable bottle stations, and we probably need at least half as many for this to have a campus wide effect.
Duke officials estimate that in the past year, students and staff have saved about 400,000 plastic bottles.
They also have a running competition to see which residence building and which faculty department can save the most, and that is definitely something we could introduce here.
Perhaps swiping your OneCard at the fountain could enter you into some kind of raffle or reward scheme to encourage filling station use over buying bottled water in the C-store. Even without prizes, the fountains might prove popular by themselves.
Most of all, I just like being able to fill up my bottle really quickly and go about my day, knowing that we are becoming more and more globally responsible as a student community.
Overall, I think this is a truly powerful development and something that we should be excited about.
It is rewarding to see the difference you make each time you cut down on your waste, and doubly rewarding to see your peers do the same.