Taking Take Back the Tap All the Way to President Lariviere

The Student Insurgent

Eugene, OR - The Take Back the Tap (TBTT) campaign, a trademark of Food and Water Watch, being run on the University of Oregon campus by the Climate Justice League, finds support from President Lariviere to discontinue the sale, purchase, and distribution of bottled water.

“President Lariviere has final say over whether or not our policy becomes a reality on this university, so having his support is very exciting,” says Manny Garcia, a campaign coordinator.

This policy has already been endorsed by the Environmental Issues Committee and the University Senate Executive Committee and has support from over 1,700 students. During the meeting with the President, Take Back the Tap members discussed the benefits to the university from this policy and the logistics of its implementation.

“President Lariviere says that, if he had a magic wand, he’d gladly make all bottled water disappear,” says Garcia. “The President just has some reservations doing it without consulting the affected departments, which he and the rest of the campaign has been doing and will continue to do.”

President Lariviere thinks the Take Back the Tap campaign is important because it works to educate students about what is going on in the world around them and to think critically about the bigger picture, which is what they are at the University to do. Therefore, continuing education after the discontinuation will be a huge focus of the Take Back the Tap campaign.

Terra Smith, a Take Back the Tap member, states that, “policies like this one are being passed across the nation and around the world; it’s time the University of Oregon became a leader in this movement.”

The University of Oregon will be the first school in the Oregon University System and in the PAC 12 to implement a campus-wide discontinuation by passing this policy, making it a sustainability leader.

Southern Oregon University is moving to discontinue bottled water in 2012, and Stanford University has already removed bottled water from their dining halls and events. These policies mean that any exemption of athletics from the final policy or any delay of its implementation would mean that the University would not be the first in the Oregon University System or the PAC 12 to implement such a change.

“Efforts to delay or scale back the policy could eliminate our chance to the be a leader on the issue,” says Garcia “but we are sincerely excited to be first and we have the support on this campus to do the right thing.”

Every Bottle is 1/3 Oil

Bottled water production uses as much as 2,000 times more energy than it takes to produce tap water. A 20oz bottle of water requires 1/3 its volume in oil and 3 times its volume in water for manufacture, transportation, and disposal. When looking at the whole process it is much easier to see the quantities of oil that must go into the bottled water industry, which is a $11.5 billion a year industry.

Each year in the U.S., 17.6 million barrels of oil go into producing 29.8 billion plastic water bottles. Of all these bottles, only 2 in every 10 are actually recycled. The rest either go into the landfill or contribute to the North Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a floating mass of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas and has up to 40 times more plastic than plankton.

Health is also a concern with bottled water because the EPA regulates tap water, which is tested 300 to 400 times a month depending on the population being supplied. However, bottled water manufacturers do testing on their own products and sources, but are not required to submit their reports to the FDA. Tests of bottled water straight off the shelf have found toluene, styrene, and bisphenol A (BPA).

Economics is another concern because bottled water costs up to 10,000 times more than tap water. Bottled water can costs consumers anywhere from $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon, while tap water costs $.002 per gallon. In Eugene the price of tap water is $.0018 per gallon.