Bottled Water

National Public Radio Reports UVM Leading the Trend in Banning Bottled Water

AP/Toby Talbot

As classes resume for a new semester, NPR’s “Morning Edition” notes that bottled water will no longer be for sale on the UVM campus, the largest public university in the country to take the stand against environmental waste. Retrofitted stations for students to refill reusable bottles with tap water are now readily available. Recent graduate Mikayla McDonald, who helped launch the campaign for the ban, tells NPR, "Bottled water is a symbol of our culture's obsession with commodifying things that should be public trust resources." 

Or listen to the story on NPR.


UVM Celebrates End of Bottled Water Sales With Bottled Water ‘Retirement Party’

Beginning January 2013, the University of Vermont will no longer sell bottled water on its campus – in vending machines, retail outlets or dining halls. To remind students of this coming water-bottle-free future and to celebrate the accomplishment, the university held a Bottled Water Retirement Party on Dec. 5. 

A series of speakers commemorated the significance of the event, and students sold refillable water bottles for $2 each and conducted taste tests of tap and bottled water. Also highlighting the event was the unveiling of an eco-sculpture made from 2,000 discarded water bottles gathered on campus and in the Burlington community that took seven weeks to build. 




Ending The Sale of Bottled Water at UVM


In response to student activism, UVM ended the sale of bottled water on its campus in January 2013. Research on beverage sales the following semester indicated that as a result of this policy, consumption of beverages with added sugars may have increased during that time frame without the number of single-use containers decreasing. It's not easy obtaining and analysing the data, and despite great interest, no followup study has been completed.

"UVM One of First Universities to End Sales of Bottled Water, Mandates Healthy Vending Options"

water bottle filling

Today, the University of Vermont announced that will end the sale of bottled water on campus and mandate that one-third of the drinks offered in vending machines will be healthy options. 

To learn more, read the article from University Communication's here.


WCAX report on January 31, 2012 evening news


WAMC Northeast Public Radio interview

Listen here




Sustainable Beverage System Panel and Speak Out

On Thursday, April 7th VSTEP and Students for a Sustainable Beverage System (SSBS) held a panel event to discuss the environmental, social and economic costs of choices for the next university beverage contract. Panelists included Richard Cate, Gioia Thompson, Gretchenrae Callanta, Gary Flomenhoft and Tom Dion. 

Gioia Thompson, Director of the Office of Sustainability,  began with an overview of the current beverage system and its issues along with the basis for thinking sustainably about beverage systems from all aspects. 

Richard Cate, VP of Finance and Administration, spoke for the administration and said they are open to how the new contract works and what the focus of the talks will be. 

Gary Flomenhoft, Research Associate Professor in RSENR, provided context for the discussion, particularly on bottled water, by explaining that in Vermont surface water and groundwater are held as a public trust resources and beginning in 2012 those extracting water for resale will need to pay a fee to the state. Bottled water in the Davis Center Marketplace is sold for $6.52/gallon, which is about twice the price of gasoline per gallon and bottling companies are using public groundwater resources so you are paying for the water twice. Flomenhoft also advocated for the ban after both the State of Vermont and the City of Burlington have banned bottled water in their offices to cut down on costs and waste. 

Gretchenrae Callanta spoke of her experiences of an a contract with Pepsi and banning bottled water at Seattle University. Students held a six month campaign with water testing, panels and petitions that resulted in a 2 1/2 year "phase out" of all bottled water on campus. Tom Dion, Chief Operator for Water in the Burlington Public Works Department, spoke primarily to the issue of bottled water and the quality of Burlington's water supply. Bottled water is regulated by the FDA while the public water supplies are overseen by the EPA, which have stricter standards. 

A question and answer session followed each panelists talk and meeting attendees were eager to ask questions and keep the conversation going. Petitions were available to sign and as well as copies of the Resolution in Support of a Sustainable Beverage System. The event was another step forward in preparing for a new beverage contract and engaging the community in University decisions.  

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