Friday, November 7, 2014

SUA Passes Resolution to End Sale of Bottled Water at UCSC

Ever notice those nifty water bottle filling stations around campus? Most of those were installed as part of a project to encourage reusable water bottle use by Take Back the Tap UCSC (TBTT), a student-led organization with a mission to end the sale of single use plastic water bottles on campus and educate our community about the environmental, social, and economics impacts of bottled water (see below for more details on these topics). This group has been making progress these last few weeks, with the most exciting achievement being that the Student Union Assembly has passed a resolution to support their cause.

Goals and Achievements
This year, TBTT is working to finally ban single-use plastic water bottles at UC Santa Cruz, and they have a number of ideas for how to do so. One is to connect with campus administrators like Chancellor Blumenthal to encourage their support in ending the sale of plastic water bottles in on-campus stores. Another goal is to get student organizations involved in signing onto a coalition with TBTT stating their support and commitment to hold plastic water bottle-free events.

These two goals, among other strategies like encouraging use of reusable water bottles and installing bottle filling spigots, require major student, faculty, and staff support. If you can lend your support or have ideas for how they can be successful this year, please email them at takebackthetapucsc[at]gmail[dot]com. Fortunately, some progress has already been made this fall quarter:

David Rosas, one of three co-coordinators for the Food & Water Watch Hub and Provost's Sustainability Intern for TBTT shared his thoughts about the coming year: "I think the Student Union Assembles passing of the resolution is a great first step to making UCSC a bottle water free UC but we will still need a lot of student body support in order to make this dream a reality. Students and organizations that agree with their SUA can definitely show their support through joining Take Back the Taps coalition or signing our petition that we will be sending to Chancellor Blumenthal. Not only do I care about getting ride of single use plastic water bottles on campus but I also want to provide plenty of alternatives for students so they do not feel inconvenienced or worse."

Take Back the Tap has been around the UC Santa Cruz campus for the past 4 years, and they are not alone: the Food & Water Watch's Take Back the Tap campaign has chapters at universities across the country. UCSC's TBTT is part of a Food & Water Watch Hub (FWW Hub) that was founded this year at UCSC, which includes not only TBTT but also an anti-fracking group and an anti-genetically modified organisms (GMO) group. The FWW Hub at UC Santa Cruz is sponsored by the Kresge Common Ground Center.

Why Ban the Bottle
The reasons are numerous and far-reaching for banning single-use plastic water bottles at UC Santa Cruz. Some reasons listed on the Food & Water Watch website include

  • "Bottled water is not safer than tap water.
  • Increasingly, bottled water comes from the tap.
  • Bottled water creates mountains of garbage and causes other major environmental problems. 
  • Bottled water is thousands of times more expensive than tap water. 
  • Bottled water companies mislead communities into giving away their public water in exchange for dangerous jobs."
Annie Leonard of The Story of Stuff Project has a video that explains these reasons in some detail. Watch it below, or view it on Youtube here.

How to Get Involved or Support TBTT
If you want to get involved with Take Back the Tap UCSC, sign their petition when you see them a tabling event or come to one of their weekly meetings, which are held every Wednesday from 7 - 8:30 PM in Kresge Seminar Room #159. You can email them at takebackthetapucsc[at]gmail[dot]com or visit their Facebook page for more information.

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