Vanguard is taking a new step in being a greener, more hydrated campus with one brand new bottle filling station installed on campus (and one more in the works). The installation of these stations will help to increase student hydration and therefore improve cognitive performance (Adan 2012, Booth et al. 2012). In addition, the presence of these stations may encourage students to refill their own reusable water bottles rather than purchasing many plastic water bottles or sugary beverages. This will he
lp reduce the plastic waste production on campus and may also help students make healthier choices when it comes to beverage consumption. With these new bottle filling stations and the availability of new Viking reusable bottles, we would like to encourage the Vanguard community to become a greener campus and produce less plastic waste.
Scientists estimate that approximately 70% of all produced plastic ends up in landfills or as litter (American Chemistry Council and Association of Plastic Recyclers 2016, Parker 2017). A mind-boggling 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, negatively impacting global fisheries, marine organisms, and our own oceanic resources (Fighting for Trash Free Seas 2018). It is widely acknowledged that reducing plastic consumption needs to be a global effort in order to achieve environmental sustainability and reduce the garbage dilemma in our oceans. Vanguard will do its part in combatting that global problem by starting with this local effort to reduce plastic waste generated from the use of disposable water bottles.
Oftentimes, we justify our disposable plastic use by doing the “green” thing and recycling the product when we’re finished with it. While recycling is an important part of reducing our carbon footprint and conserving resources, it turns out that recycling plastic is not very efficient. Some of the main companies that use disposable bottles like Nestle and Coca-Cola acknowledge that less than 10% of their plastic comes from recycled materials (Wong 2017). With decreased petroleum prices (plastic comes from a substance in crude petroleum called naptha), it is more effective for companies to use brand new plastic rather than recycled plastic in the creation of their products. Most recycled plastic is actually converted into clothing or non-food application containers rather than new bottles, making the majority of the plastic in our disposable water bottles new plastic made from petroleum (American Chemistry Council and Association of Plastic Recyclers 2016). Ultimately, the best thing to do in order to reduce the plastic waste polluting our rivers and oceans is to not use it in the first place (yes, this includes other single-use plastic items like straws and plastic bags).
In addition to reducing plastic waste by not using disposable water bottles, we are also reducing our carbon footprint and water costs. A new reusable bottle can cost between $5 - $20 and can last around 10 years. The average American purchases approximately 30 gallons of bottled water each year, spending at least $100 per person a year on bottled water (Bottle Water Expense, n.d., Gleick & Cooley 2009). With plastic bottles, primarily fossil fuel energy (rather than renewable energy) is required to make the bottles, treat the water, fill and package the bottles, and transport the bottles to their final destination. The energy required for this process is approximately 2,000 times what is needed for tap water and accounts for 32-54 million barrels of oil annually (Gleick & Cooley 2009). This means that, not accounting for plastic waste produced, disposable bottled water contributes significantly towards energy consumption and production of greenhouse gases, furthering concerns with global warming.
Many consumers of bottled water purchase bottled water under the assumption that bottled water is of higher quality than tap water; however, approximately 44% of all bottled water in the U.S. originated as municipal water, is purified again, and is sold as “purified” water (Gleick & Cooley 2009). Municipal (tap) water undergoes rigorous scrutiny and is required to be tested daily by standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bottled water, on the other hand, is regulated by the Federal Drug Administration and only requires weekly testing, the results of which are not required to be publicly reported (Goodman 2009).
Here in Waco, we actually have some of the best tap water in the state! Admittedly, Waco water prior to 2011 was pretty foul tasting due to a persistent algae problem in Lake Waco, our water source. In the early 2000’s, the City of Waco spent approximately $65 million dollars to build the Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) Plant to improve taste and odor concerns with our water (Dunlap et al. 2015). The DAF is a unique type of water treatment plant and when it was constructed in 2010 was the only one of its kind in Texas (Dunlap et al. 2015). The DAF is used as a pre-treatment facility to remove the algae, and water is then sent to either Mt. Carmel or Riverside for the final treatment stage (Dunlap et al. 2015). The end result of all this treatment is that Waco water has maintained a Superior rating from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (less than 10% of the Public Water Supplies in Texas have a Superior rating) while using fewer chemicals than other plants (City of Waco Water Utility Services 2017). The ozone used as part of the disinfectant process at the DAF is one of the top available disinfection methods and does not create many disinfection byproducts like Haloacetic acids and Trihalomethanes (carcinogens). In addition, Waco is part of the Texas Optimization Program (TOP); this program only has ~12 plants in the state that participate and have met the stringent standards.
So, please, help Vanguard become a greener campus by using
reusable water bottles and our new bottle refilling stations!
We are selling two types of reusable bottles, a 36 oz blue plastic bottle for $10, and a 32 oz black insulated bottle for $23. Each bottle order includes a personalized monogram for the side opposite of the Viking seal, and all proceeds from the bottles will go towards purchasing and installing the second refilling station in Bostick cafe. You’ll not only be helping our students stay better hydrated, but you will also be helping to improve our local and global environment by saving energy and reducing plastic waste. We would also like to encourage parents and students to bring reusable bottles to school events (the exception being some sporting events that do not permit outside drinks) as we are striving to limit the bottled water consumed on our campus.
You can them purchase online via this link or by completing an order form from the front office.
The new water refilling station located in the Gym. Funding for the station was generously donated by Waco Friends of Peace/Climate who strongly encourage Waco citizens to reduce plastic waste and use in order to protect our environment and limit the effects of anthropogenic climate change.
Adan, A. 2012. Cognitive Performance and Dehydration. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 31:71-78.
American Chemistry Council and Association of Plastic Recyclers. 2016. 2016 United States National Postconsumer Plastic Bottle Recycling Report.
Booth, P., B. Taylor, and C. Edmonds. 2012. The effect of water consumption on cognitive and motor performance. Appetite 59:621.
Bottle Water Expense. n.d. The Water Project.
City of Waco Water Utility Services. 2017. 2017 City of Waco Water Quality Report. < http://www.waco-texas.com/userfiles/cms-water/file/cow_current_ccr.pdf>. Accessed 13 August 2018.
Dunlap, C., K. Sklenar, and L. Blake. 2015. A Costly Endeavor: Addressing Algae Problems in a Water Supply. Journal - American Water Works Association 107:E255-E262.
Fighting for Trash Free Seas. 2018. Ocean Conservancy.
Gleick, P., and H. Cooley. 2009. Energy implications of bottled water. Environmental Research Letters 4.
Goodman, S. 2009. Fewer Regulations for Bottled Water Than Tap, GAO Says - NYTimes.com. Archive.nytimes.com.
Parker, L. 2017. A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn't Recycled. National Geographic.
TOP Goals and Recognition. 2018. TCEQ.
Wong, V. 2017. Your recycled plastic water bottles rarely produce new water bottles. CNBC.