Campus / News / January 28, 2010

Students aim to chuck plastic

Since last week, members of the Student Senate Sustainability Committee have been tabling in the Seymour Gallery to raise awareness and support of removing commercial bottled water from campus. But unlike other recent efforts to change student purchasing habits, tablers are asking supporters to sign a pledge promising not to purchase bottled water from on campus sources instead of seeking an outright ban. In return, signers will receive a stainless steel water bottle in the near future.

“The purpose of this is to spread awareness among the student body about the function and purpose of their water bottles,” committee member Laura Jorgensen said.

A Green Fee proposal to procure such bottles for students received pre-approval from Student Senate last week, with a finalized concept to come before the chamber this coming session. The proposal would include bottles for all signers of the pledge and more.

“We’ve had at least 200 students sign in our first half-week of tabling,” Jorgensen said.

The Sustainability Committee ultimately seeks the elimination of all disposable plastic water bottles sold on campus. Signs decrying their use and promoting tap water have appeared near water fountains and bathrooms all over campus through member’s efforts since the push started last year. One of the major goals is to reduce the amount of plastic being thrown away on campus.

“There is an ungodly amount of recycling being thrown in the trash,” Jorgensen said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Literature handed out by the committee claims that bottled water is more expensive, less regulated, and worse for the environment than tap water. Jorgensen also spoke of the health effects linked to repeated use of plastic water bottles.

“BPA is found in plastics, and is not good for your endocrine system,” Jorgensen said. Plastic water bottles can contain a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which recent studies show have negative health effects.

Overall, the committee hopes that this will be an important first step in turning the campus into a more sustainable water community.

“Knox isn’t the first college to think about implementing such an idea… Just because we’re in Galesburg doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it,” Jorgensen said.

Andrew Polk

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