“Take back the tap!” has become a very successful campaign at Unity College to encourage students to choose tap water over bottled water. The slogan is based on the “Take Back the Tap” campaign created by the non-profit organization Food & Water Watch, which works to promote sustainable future through research and policymaking. Unity has literally become a case study for the program, which highlights reasons to avoid bottled water and easy ways for campuses to create alternatives here: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/how-your-organization-can-promote-tap-water/ .
The school’s Office of Student Affairs began a tradition of distributing reusable stainless-steel water bottles to all its students three years ago. The human resources department pitched in as well by giving the similar bottles to all college employees. This action seems to have sparked a trend, considering that not long after, a Residence Life survey found that the student body desired follow up on this program.
This survey found that the sustainability-minded students here at Unity College were demanding more easy access to tap water, most likely as the result of the water-bottle promotion has certainly sparked students to think about the environmental effects of purchasing bottled water. Calls for easier access to drinking water in the residence halls were answered with the purchase of these water coolers (above). The sleek, inconspicuous plastic towers utilize water from existing plumbing to provide easy access to drinking water. This way, resident students don’t need to seek out a bathroom sink –many of which are smaller than the school-issued water bottles –to make good use of the sustainable source of water.
However, these new water coolers aren’t the only solution for easier water access. The school has also installed these fixtures on water fountains in public spaces that make filling water bottles on the go easier as well. The fixtures bring the alternative to bottled water to an even greater audience (pictured to the left).
Likewise, efforts on Unity College’s campus to conserve water aren’t alone. Many campuses, like those featured in the Food & Water Watch’s report, have also instituted campus-wide bans on bottled water. Students at Unity College and elsewhere are also gaining exposure to issues in classes which focus on social justice issues and creating advocacy campaigns to help students get involved in the issues in their communities.