There’s No Point Paying For It

Vote For A Bottled Water Free Campus

The university’s contract with Pepsi Co. allows Concordia to mandate the company to remove bottled water from campus. Voting it off is the first step. Photo Erin Sparks
Photo Erin Sparks

Every time we buy a bottle of water we are falling prey to the greatest marketing dupe of all time.

Concordia is taking the first step to banning bottled water on campus by asking the students to vote on the matter in the upcoming elections taking place this week.

“Whether you look at the bottle from a social, political or environmental perspective, there are countless reasons to fill a reusable mug with tap water over the disposable bottled variety,” said Diana Kirkwood, Concordia’s Zero Waste Campus Coordinator.

Aquafina and Dasani, which are owned by Pepsi and Coca-Cola respectively, have stated numerous times that their bottled water is nothing more than filtered tap water.

“You’re already paying taxes to your municipality for your tap water and then if you choose to buy disposable bottled water you are then paying again to companies in which many have admitted are simply bottling municipal sources of water and selling it back to you,” said Kirkwood. “So in reality you are paying for your water twice and supporting the direction of water privatization in Canada.”

Michael Heinermann, co-coordinator of TAPthirst, believes that water is a human right and is one that shouldn’t be privatized. By allowing companies to purchase water resources, society is basically giving them the right to own the water that they then sell to the consumers—water which should be a free commodity.

“Everyone should have access to fresh, safe drinking water,” said Heinermann. “We can’t let Nestle, Coke and Pepsi own the world supply of water, which is already scarce.”

Despite all of this, we still allow bottling companies to fool us into thinking that their water is somehow better for us than tap water. Unlike municipal tap water, which undergoes various and regular health and safety checks, bottled water is only tested once every couple of years due to lack of regulatory enforcement and personnel, according to the Polaris Institute.

“The PET plastic bottles are made from fossil fuels which are identified as a non-renewable resource,” said Kirkwood.

“These petro-chemical based products utilize high quantities of water in the creation of the oil based resins, as well as require an input of chemical additives and energy to produce the finished plastic products. Once the bottle itself is constructed, more energy is then required in the transportation, extraction of the water itself from its source for bottling, distribution and then refrigeration before it ever even reaches the hand of the consumer. When we consider that at every stage of this product’s life cycle it leaves behind pollutants in the form of atmospheric and waterborne emissions as well as solid waste including greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide linked to global warming, why would we choose to pay for our water when we already have a safe water source?”

By voting ‘Yes’ to the banning of bottled water, we can rapidly decline the 2.1 million plastic bottles that were thrown in the garbage during the 2008-2009 semester according to R4’s waste audit, and start the long battle that says that water is a basic human right.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 28, published March 29, 2011.