UVM reboots bottle ban with new campaign

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After receiving national attention for its water bottle ban, UVM is striving to better the policy by taking it back to its origins: student involvement.

One of the reasons the ban was unsuccessful was a lack of student involvement said Richard Cate, treasurer and vice president for finance at UVM.

The University implemented a campaign centered on educational publicity and student involvement following UVM nutrition professor Rachel Johnson’s May 14 study on the ban’s effectiveness.

The campaign has a budget of $11,000, he said.

A water bottle refilling station in the Davis Center is pictured. UVM is launching a new marketing campaign to encourage students to drink water. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY PHIL CARRUTHERS

[/media-credit] A water bottle refilling station in the Davis Center is pictured. UVM is launching a new marketing campaign to encourage students to drink water. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY PHIL CARRUTHERS

This budget is a “combination of discretionary funds from the office of the president coming from gifts to the University and from the University’s general operating funds,” Cate said.

Behavioral studies found that students were more likely to fill their water bottles if there was a water fountain inside the retail dining facilities instead of directly outside them, he said.

The second half of the campaign involves educational publicity, or educating students about the importance of water through marketing, Cate said.

The marketing campaign was led by a local design company, Tally Ho, located on Bank Street in Burlington, according to University Communications.

Ted Olsen, owner of Tally Ho, said he found students of the millennial generation like simple, relatable things.

“If you look closely at the water drop,” Olsen said, “you will see that it says ‘UVM loves water.’”

Thus, the posters that plaster the residence halls and the walls of locations such as the Davis Center and the Bailey/ Howe Library contain images of student water bottles and simple messages, he said.

The origin of the water bottle ban was born out of student activism as early as 2012, Cate said.

After looking at the issue from both an environmental and nutritional perspective, University officials decided to put the ban into place, he said.

In January 2013, UVM became the first university in the nation to create a campus wide water bottle ban, as reported by the Cynic Feb. 2, 2013.

UVM’s water bottle ban increased the sale of sugary drinks sold in bottles, according to Johnson’s research.

Senior Sarah Shaffer, the sustainability intern at UVM dining, is leading an educational tabling campaign alongside EcoReps to promote both nutritional and environmental goals of the ban, she said

“Our main objective is re- kindling for students why this is important, why people should care,” she said.

Her primary project this semester is a tabling campaign to educate students on why the water discussion is important.

“We were a leader for the nation by successfully implementing the water bottle ban, and we the nation saw its flaws when the study came out, it is our responsibility to take action,” she said.

Olsen found that working with the EcoReps allowed them to learn how to bring students back into the discussion.

“Working with the students allowed us to see what we needed to do to get across the to the students with our designs,” he said.