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It’s mid-morning, and you have a few minutes between classes. You’re thirsty, and being health conscious, you make your way to the Science Center and purchase a bottle of water. You chug the water, throw out the bottle, and book it back to your classes. In the process, you’ve dropped $1.25 and used up some finite resources—not as productive as you’d hoped your morning would be.
On Nov. 18, Harvard students will vote to make their mid-morning water breaks more environmentally friendly—as well as more convenient. If the Environmental Action Committee’s referendum passes, the Undergraduate Council will urge administration to end the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus while installing water fountains and refill stations in all academic and residential buildings. We at The Crimson suggest that you vote for this measure.
Single-use plastic water bottles represent one of the most easily obviated threats currently plaguing the environment. As the EAC notes on its homepage, the production of bottled water releases millions of tons of harmful chemicals—such as C02—into the environment. After the water’s consumption, those very same bottles often end up in overflowing landfills or swirling, oceanic garbage heaps. Ending the sale of bottled water on campus would constitute a step toward addressing this problem and advancing President Faust’s explicitly stated goal of mitigating the University’s environmental impact.
The referendum’s measures would also improve students’ daily lives. Since the measure also calls for more water fountains placed throughout campus, students would have access to cheaper, cleaner, and more convenient water. Here in Massachusetts, we benefit from some of the strictest water supply regulations in the country, and there is no reason to avoid water fountains or tap water for fear of water quality. Bottled water is not held to the same exacting standards—it simply isn’t cleaner than tap water.
Imagine a world in which you didn’t have to book it to the Science Center and shell out your money just to get some water. Instead, imagine quenching your thirst for free at a conveniently located water fountain, or using a refill station to fill your reusable bottle. The whole endeavor would take less time, cost you less money, and help the environment.
In her letter opposing fossil-fuel divestment, President Faust said that “we need to strengthen . . . our approach to sustainable investment,” and the coming referendum provides us with just that opportunity. This is a common-sense measure that will help the environment and improve our daily lives. We hope you vote “yes” on the bottled water ban, and that Harvard quickly enacts it.
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