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Just say no to bottled water, say Linfield College students
Linfield College students Annika Yates, left, and Collin Morris are working to ban bottled water on campus
Collin Morris and Annika Yates say bottled water is a social justice, public safety and environmental issue. In Oregon, some campuses have moved toward a ban, while campaigns elsewhere are just getting started. Students are behind the push at most schools, including Linfield College, which has campuses in Northwest Portland and McMinnville.
The biggest hurdles, Morris says, are campus profits from bottled water sales and student perceptions of convenience and social norms. “It’s too bad,” said the political science major, “as most students don’t have deep pockets, and bottled water is 1,900 times more expensive than tap water.”
Yates and Morris consider it their job to find solutions, and they are reaching out to groups across the Linfield campus. They started their campaign with a blind taste test, and found that most students couldn’t tell the difference, or preferred tap water. That makes sense, they say, as 40 percent of bottled water actually comes from the tap. “Marketers are selling us a line when they advertise bottled water as more pure,” Morris said.
“Governments around the world are allowing corporations to tap into public water sources, bottle the liquid, and sell it back to us at an exorbitant rate,” he said.
Their video explores the question of whether water should be a fundamental human right. It also documents the life cycle of a plastic bottle, showing the environmental impacts along the way, starting at the oil rig and ending with the landfill, where plastic persists for 700 years.
“More students are on board this year,” Yates said, “but we have a lot of work ahead of us. Social change doesn’t happen overnight, but we are optimistic.”
Watch the video here