Letter to the editor: UVM, water you thinking?

Dear editor, ?

I was dismayed to learn the other day that VSTEP had finally won the battle to ban bottled water on campus, a classic display of great intentions turned into worst possible outcome. 

Don’t get me wrong. I do sympathize with the cause – saving the world. It’s great. I love it. The best. I’m on board. 

But a ban on bottled water? Eh. I’m not so in to it. 

Here’s why:

First of all, the ban stinks of paternalism. Restrictions made on my freedom for “my own future” make me uneasy, especially when the benefits of those restrictions aren’t clearly demonstrated. 

Second, the ban will achieve no net reduction in waste. If the idea is to reduce the amount of plastic bottle waste produced on campus, then get rid of all the plastic bottled beverages, not just water.

The empty shelf space is going to be filled with other drinks. And guess what? Those drinks come in plastic bottles, too.

Where’s the study that links the absence of bottled water on a college campus with fewer bottled beverages consumed overall? I bet VSTEP a Dasani to a Nalgene that it doesn’t exist. And if people are going to substitute, what is actually being accomplished? 

Third, a ban on bottled water is effectively a promotion of other less healthy bottled drinks.

UVM is basically saying that they don’t believe in selling drinks that are good for their students on campus, only those that are demonstrably terrible. And a few others, maybe, that aren’t as terrible. 

My last point is a question. What is the first ingredient in almost every other bottled drink besides water? That’s right, it’s also water!

UVM is banning bottled water, at an enormous expense to its student body, and replacing the bottled water with more bottled water. Except the new bottled water is enhanced with sugar and food coloring.

Simply mind blowing.

The way to reduce bottled water consumption is through long-term, grassroots education. And even then, success isn’t certain.

A plan hinged on prohibition is a bad idea and won’t work to accomplish its intended goals. It just doesn’t hold water. 



Joe Collier

Class of 2008