With NYU’s Washington Square Park campus being in a city that has the “champagne of drinking water,” why is it that we still sell single-use, plastic water bottles?
Most NYU buildings have refill stations, and it is not like the water we have in the city is dirty or unaccessible, making bottled water unnecessary. We live in an area where we have the privilege of being able to access clean and free drinking water, so there is no need to further harm the environment by selling disposable plastic water bottles on campus. NYU does currently have a partial ban on campus, meaning that it does not use bottled water during any catered events or include bottled water in student meal plans. While this partial ban highlights progress, it occurred nine years ago, and policy on water bottle sales at NYU has not changed since. It is for this reason that EarthMatters — an environmental umbrella club at NYU — has rebooted the Take Back the Tap campaign on campus, which aims to reduce the environmental impacts of single-use plastic water bottles by banning them from being sold on campus.
As a national campaign, Take Back the Tap has been successful on college campuses all over the country, and even with our neighbors at the New School who have banned any and all plastic bottle sales on their campus. Additionally, water that is put in plastic bottles is often regulated less than what people often imagine, and is no safer than tap water.
As for the colossal environmental impact: in 2015, 70 percent of all plastic bottles ended up in the landfill, totalling 4 billion pounds of waste. The environmental damage of even making a plastic bottle is massive. The emissions of greenhouse gases from producing plastic bottles amounts to the almost 2.5 million passenger car emissions. Therefore, an item we think about minimally in our day to day lives has a monumental environmental impact.
The question we must ask is what can we as students do to ensure that our university is as environmentally friendly as it claims to be? The first step is to create a movement, because the more people that rally behind a cause, the stronger their influence will be. We need to make our presence known by informing faculty and students about the harms of plastic bottles and why our university needs to do more for water conservation. It would also be helpful to build a network of various organizations to show that there is a united front for the cause.
Then, once manpower is built up, we can move forward as a community to catalyze real change. It is at this point that goals can be set and groups can lobby for the complete ban of plastic water bottles on campus. To reach this point, we need student support. Do research, attend an EarthMatters meeting and show that you care. If you don’t have time to take part in the campaign, consider buying a reusable water bottle. Even the smallest action can make a huge impact.
As a university that is known for being a global campus, we must take steps to abolish practices that damage the world around us. The Take Back The Tap campaign can set NYU in the right direction.
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Email Josi Riederer von Paar at [email protected].