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Students Receive Funding to Reduce Use of Disposable Water Bottles

EAO will conduct a water taste-testing experiment from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the Sullivan Student Center.

A St. Lawrence University student organization has received funding to draw awareness and to help reduce the number of disposable plastic water bottles used across campus.

The Environmental Action Organization (EAO) student group submitted their proposal aimed at altering the campus culture at St. Lawrence and to reduce disposable water bottle usage to the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I). NYSP2I is headquartered at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and is a partnership between RIT, Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University at Buffalo and the 10 New York State Regional Technology Development Centers. EAO’s proposal was accepted, and the student organization will receive $1,000 to support their efforts.

The students’ proposal builds on a 2012 Thelomathesian Society resolution, which supports policies that choose municipal water services over bottled water in an effort to support the University’s commitment of achieving climate neutrality.

“We want to create a social awareness campaign on campus that tries to convince students not to buy bottled water,” said Jeffrey Mogavero ’16 of Havertown, Penn., who is co-president of EAO and was the lead author of the proposal. “Right now, people don’t really think much about it or maybe they even think it’s better and healthier than tap water. We hope this gets people thinking differently.”

The group will begin their project next week during the final week of classes. They will hold a water-tasting station from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, and Thursday, Dec. 12, in the Sullivan Student Center, where passersby will have the opportunity to compare bottled water to filtered hydration station water and to regular tap water. The results will then be posted around campus.

The group will continue its efforts during the spring semester, using some of its funding to purchase reusable water bottles, which they will hand out to students drinking from disposable water bottles. Students will also be asked to sign a pledge that they will refrain from purchasing disposable water bottles. In addition, funds will be used to purchase a filtered-water hydration station to be located near where bottled water is currently sold. EAO has also been invited to present their project at in exhibition at RIT in April.

According to the group’s proposal, the Northstar Café sold more than 20,000 1-liter and nearly 55,000 half-liter bottles of water. While the student organization understands that the University profits from the sale of bottled water, it does hope to eliminate bottled water completely on campus.

“Our goal is to eliminate the sale of bottled water altogether,” he said. “We want to reduce sales over time, so there isn’t a huge loss in profit for the campus all at once. But, we also believe that with less disposable bottled water there will also be a reduction in the amount of waste the campus has to haul away.”

Jeffrey believes that bottled water remains in use on campus simply because students and staff continue buy it.

“We need to change people’s mindset,” he said. “In order to effect a change in consumption behaviors, there needs to be a change in culture.”