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Emerson joins growing list of colleges moving to eliminate bottled water

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  March 20, 2012 12:41 PM

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(Matt Rocheleau for Boston.com)

Some Emerson students agreed with the college’s move to reduce bottled water on campus, but others, like Danny Chamberlain, were dismayed. The 18-year-old freshman pictured inside a school cafe sat at a table with a laptop and a cold, freshly-opened Poland Spring water a half-liter “Eco-Shape” bottle that the bottled water company says uses 30 percent less plastic than its previous design. "Poland Springs is pretty green already. [Emerson is] being overly cautious about being green I think," he said. "I feel like they have a lot of other bottled drinks on campus, so why not keep water, which is more healthy," than sugary alternatives, like soda.

Emerson College has begun phasing out bottled water on its Boston campus.

In doing so, the school joins a growing number of colleges and universities across the country that are moving to ban or restrict the sale of plastic water bottles.

Like other schools, Emerson leaders are citing a number of factors for the action:
that bottled water costs significantly more to buy than tap water; that making plastic bottles contributes to greenhouse gas emissions; used bottles create added waste or litter; and that, despite marketing that suggests otherwise, and studies have found bottled water is not any safer than tap water.

Emerson President Lee Pelton wrote last week in an e-mail to campus members that the purchase of bottled water with institutional funds will be “strongly discouraged.”

The school plans to install new “hydration stations” and retrofit some existing water fountains to make them more reusable-bottle friendly. The use of five-gallon water jugs will be phased out and the school will continue to install filtration systems. Administrators also pledged to ensure that campus events catered by food vendor Aramark will serve pitchers of water instead of individual bottles.

The announcement from Emerson administrators that the school is joining the “back to the tap” movement was timed with the upcoming celebration of International World Water Day on March 22.

Dartmouth College and Harvard and Brown universities are among the campuses that have banned or restricted the use of plastic water bottles.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.

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