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May 5, 2009

By Claire Cunningham

Why has Belmont banned plastic water bottle sales on campus? Has the removal of trashcans from classrooms not have been enough to fulfill the “Going Green” initiative? However grateful I may be that the school has added recycling bins everywhere, I am infuriated with the recent decision to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus.

I understand that an enormous uproar has occurred around the country regarding how plastic water bottles rot in landfills and harm the environment. But don’t plastic soda bottles do the same? Where is the uproar there? If this campus is truly committed to bettering its environment, wouldn’t it be more consistent and less hypocritical to ban all plastic bottles? We will not make much impact on the environment by banning water bottles but continuing to sell soda bottles.

Perhaps banning bottled water is the first step in banning all plastic bottles on campus. But that raises another question: has Belmont even considered how these decisions will affect student consumption patterns?

Students value convenience and accessibility. Banning the sale water bottles on campus is likely to lead to more soft drink consumption, as students will prefer a quick alternative to standing in re-hydration lines. Students are also likely to gravitate to Circle K and other local businesses to buy their water. Even if we are able to assume that re-hydration areas offer healthier options than our current arrangements, what is to guarantee that students will use them?

But what about SoBE bottles? If we need to ban the sale of anything because it’s harmful to the environment, ban glass bottle sales! There are few recycle containers for glass on campus. Most bottles end up thrown into the garbage. Those bottles end up rotting in landfills as well, but Belmont turns a blind eye to the glass we are not recycling and allows us to throw it away. How about providing the easy alternative—another recycling container?

My biggest concern centers on the lack of student input in this decision. If we are to ban the sale of disposable water bottles on campus, it should come from students lobbying for it, not from the administration mandating it. I see many students recycling their plastic and reusing their bottles. Belmont should continue to encourage us to be environmentally responsible citizens, instead of attempting to dictate what we can and cannot buy on campus. At least we know Circle K just got paid.

Claire Cunningham in a sophomore Music Business major.

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