Eco Reps Column

As of January 1st 2013, flat and flavorless bottled water was banned from being sold on the UVM campus. Us environmentalists have watched with smiles on their faces as water bottles have disappeared from shelves and vending machines all over campus. Although this was a great accomplishment, our work here is not yet finished.

The fact is, the University still trucks in five gallon plastic water bottles for Crystal Rock water coolers all over campus and the expenses from this service adds. In 2012 a total of $30,227.74 was spent on Crystal Rock related purchases.

Upon this realization, it is likely that University funds for bottled water coolers will soon be eliminated.

You may have never seen a water cooler on campus before, and you may graduate without ever seeing one. This is because they are located in various offices and waiting rooms spread out across the entire campus, most of them not accessible to students.

This presents a unique problem that is very much individualized for each location. The Office of Sustainability is beginning to visit each of these locations to determine if the coolers are necessary in these spaces.

Many of the Crystal Rock coolers that exist on campus are present because there is no other easy access to water in that location. Some are placed in waiting rooms for Health or Counseling Centers. Some are in places where students are going through the judicial process.

As Gioia Thompson believes, people need waterit is a simple healer.

These are places that have a need for cold and hot water for the many visitors and moreover, distressed students that walk through their doors.

However, the number of coolers on campus presents an idea of convenience rather than necessity.

In a certain location that Eco-reps visitedwhich will remain unnamedthere was a water cooler in the staff room of the building. This room also adorned a Keurig, an electric hot water pot, a microwave, and a sink. In addition, there was a fully functioning water fountain directly across the hall.

This is where a water cooler is absolutely unnecessary and not only a waste of resources, but also a waste of university funding. This is what we are trying to eliminate.

In locations like these the five-gallon water coolers should be and will be removed.

To address the locations that have valid uses for the coolers, we will be consulting with plumbers and Crystal Rock as well as looking to possibly install bottle-less cooler systems. These will have the ability to connect directly to the water tap line and do not require plastic bottle refills.