Students campaigning to ban sale of bottled water at U of S

Watch the video above: a local group is hoping to have bottled water banned at the U of S

SASKATOON – A group of University of Saskatchewan students is pushing to ban the sale of bottled water on campus.

The U of S Environment and Sustainability Student Association began the initiative in September.

“Tap water is safe, and it’s also the more sustainable way to consume water, ” said Kathryn Dompierre, a student outreach committee representative with the Global Institute for Water Security.

After gathering dozens of signatures through a taste test booth in November, the students are moving forward with a final petition.

“More people actually preferred the taste of tap water, and a lot of university groups have said they support us,” said Kelly Richardson, a Master of Sustainability Management candidate.

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Quintin Zook is the director of consumer services at the U of S and says his department has worked hard to promote environmental choices, but explains there may be downfalls and obstacles in implementing the ban.

“Currently we’re in a five-year agreement with Pepsi for our vending machines,” he said. The agreement was signed in 2011.

Zook also says the school may have health concerns.

“Some studies have shown that eliminating bottled water moves people to other choices of purchases of bottled products,” he explained.

In Saskatoon, some local schools have installed water bottle filling stations to encourage more sustainable choices.

“Students really like the idea of the water bottle filler,” said Tony Bairos, principal of St. Angela School.

“They understand the importance of saving the environment,” he said.

Bairos’ school recently installed one of the water bottle filling stations. He said they’re not only environmentally friendly, but hygenic, thanks to the fountain’s sensor. The station also records how many plastic bottles it has saved from the landfill.

“It does filter the water…but there wasn’t any concern about the tap water here,” Bairos explained.

Eight bottle filling stations have already been retrofitted on the U of S campus, and Zook said ten more will be installed over the next few semesters.

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Other Canadian schools, such as the University of Toronto and University of Manitoba, have banned the sale of bottled water.

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