Student Senate’s Sustainability committee has launched a campaign based around Sinky, a talking cartoon sink, to encourage students to try out alternatives to drinking water out of plastic bottles.
Senior Rachel Watson initially made up the character as well as the slogan “Drink from the Sink” as a joke in a sustainability committee meeting last school year. Despite the intended silliness of the idea, it ended up moving forward this year under current committee chair and sophomore Caitlin Edelmuth.
“We could just throw facts at people … or we could say ‘hey look at this fun little thing that’s engaging,’” Edelmuth said. “If you’re joking about it, at least you’re talking about it.”
Sinky has begun popping up on campus in the form of posters and cards placed near sinks by RA’s. Future plans for Sinky include the distribution of buttons featuring the character.
While Sinky was conceived as a joke, Edelmuth explained the serious issue behind the campaign of getting students to turn away from creating additional waste via single-use plastic bottles.
“Plastics take about, depending on the type of plastic it is … between 40 and 400 years to completely degrade,” Edelmuth said. “The development of plastic is just not really great for the environment and when there are so many other alternatives like using reusable water bottles.”
While the need for Knox to use less plastic water bottles in locations like the Grab-N-Go has been discussed by the sustainability committee, Director of Sustainability Debbie Steinberg explained that it was necessary to start with encouraging changes in behavior.
“Before we can stop people from buying bottled water, we need to teach them that there’s an alternative,” Steinberg said. “There really is no need for disposable bottles that are just accumulating in our oceans and landfills.”
Edelmuth noted that it was possible some students may be unaccustomed to drinking water from the sink due to coming from places where it may not be safe to consume, having personally seen some international students show discomfort.
“Some of the countries they come from cannot drink from the sink,” Edelmuth said. “I have a friend who in particular once he came here, I was filling my cup from the bathroom sink and drinking it and he tried to whack it out of my hand.”
Edelmuth and Steinberg both affirmed that the water quality of the school’s sinks has been tested and assured to be safe. While altering the potential stigma around drinking from the sink is one of the goals of Sinky, it is possible some students simply don’t enjoy the taste as much.
“They like the plastic water bottle taste, which is actually caused by a chemical they intentionally put in plastic water bottles,” Edelmuth said. “So it’s not just water.”
Edelmuth also stated that past surveys by the Sustainability Committee revealed a consensus dissatisfaction with water fountains on campus, either due to their age or not being conveniently placed, although there are no current plans for attempting to solve this issue.
While the Sinky campaign has been of zero financial cost, the Sustainability Committee is considering future projects such as attempting to distribute reusable water bottles out to the incoming freshman. While this idea is just in the early stages of consideration, the committee is currently looking for potential companies to purchase the reusable bottles from.
“The school would be providing a way for students to help the planet,” Edelmuth said.
Rachel Watson is the social media manager for TKS.