At the end of 2011, I went on an exchange to the University of Toronto in Canada. When I got the there, it was spring and surprisingly hot, especially when I was expecting -33 degrees as soon as I got off the plane. When I went to the uni, one of the first things I noticed was that I could not buy any bottled waters anywhere! At first I found this really annoying, but then I quickly realized that the university had installed a lot of filtered & chilled water refill station across the uni (this is pictured above). These machines also told you how many plastic bottles you have saved by using the machine, giving you a little self-esteem lift because you were doing your bit for the environment. UofT also gave out free reusable water bottles at the beginning of the semester and sold really good quality bottles for a reasonable price.
The campaign that started this change was a student initiative called “The Public Water Initiative” . This organization created the campaign called “On Tap”, which lobbied to make clean water more accessible across campus and advertised the social and environment impacts of the commodification of bottled water.
The whole campaign used a five-step process over three years, which are listed below: –
Goal 1: Phase out the sale of bottled water in all food and retail outlets over a three-year period beginning in September 2011.
Goal 2: Invest in the installation of public water sources, which could include new or upgraded water fountains, and ensure that locations of public water sources are known.
Goal 3: Ensure that design standards for new buildings and major renovations include public water sources.
Goal 4: Eliminate the use of bottled water by academic and administrative departments for meetings and events on a voluntary basis.
Goal 5: Invest in and support education and outreach activities.
Even after this has been implemented, they continue to maintain the awareness and education of the campaign to students so they that can understand the decision the university has made. They also advertise this map, which shows where all the water stations around the universities are.
University of Toronto’s plan and process of implementing change is exactly what we want to do at UNSW! By applying these goals to UNSW we could change our campus and our behavior. I know one 4month stay at University of Toronto showed me that this wasn’t a big deal and that that small changes can make a big difference.
Pictures from: –