Ban Bottled Water on Western University Campuses
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Bottled water is a commodity used by many Canadians, often without thought. While purchasing a bottle of water may seem like a harmless action, and a healthier alternative to soft drinks, there are in fact intense repercussions that arise from each bottle purchased.
This request is a formal expansion of the petition established at Dalhousie University this spring; initiated by Emelia Card, Claire Chadwick, and Taylor Sutherland.
"The issues with bottled water starts with one of the first steps in the commodity chain, the extraction of water. While you may think that the water used in bottled water comes from glistening, unpolluted springs in remote parts of the world this is far from true. In fact, “the water for Coca-Cola's Dasani, and Pepsi's Aquafina is actually drawn directly from municipal taps” while Nestlé extracts groundwater (Harden and Fletcher, 2008). Furthermore, the corporations pay very little for this water, for example, Coca-Cola can bottle up to 34,000 litres of water from municipal taps in Brampton for $1.70, the same price a consumer would pay for a one-litre bottle of Dasani water (Clarke, 2007). There are also immense social justice issues that arise. Communities located near water extraction sources have reported their wells running dry and their water sources being negatively effected. Additionally, as you may know, there has been significant controversy regarding a Nestlé bottling plant in Canada, for this reason; the Nestlé water bottling plant in Aberfoyle, Ontario, continued to pump water, despite a drought (Leslie, K., 2016). Evidently, bottled water is making our world a worse place, not a better. Bottled water corporations are stealing water from communities, while paying nearly nothing and this is not an activity which Western University should support.
There are also significant issues, as you are likely aware, with the disposal of bottle water. 85% of empty plastic bottles end up in landfills or are incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals into the air (Dolesh, 2014, p 36). While all waste has detrimental environmental impacts, plastic bottles are particularly harmful in landfills. Plastic bottles are made of a substance called PET, which is very toxic. This has huge environmental impacts, as well as impacts on those living near landfills, as toxins from the bottles enter groundwater sources. Additionally, many plastic water bottles end up in oceans, with detrimental effects on wildlife. As most people are aware, plastic bottles are incredibly detrimental to the environment and, for that reason, Western should ban the sale of bottled water on campus.
Bottled water provides consumers with no benefits. Despite the deceptive marketing which we have been the target of for our whole lives, there is no advantage of drinking bottled water. Advertisements may tell us that it is cleaner, and safer than tap water but, members of the Western community are in fact lucky to live in an area where tap water is safe and healthy. In London, drinking bottled water is not necessary, nor does it provide consumers with any benefit and thus, bottled water can and should be banned on Western campuses."
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