All the sugary drinks that are available at the Depot. Photo by Luis Lopez.
All the sugary drinks that are available at the Depot. Photo by Luis Lopez.

OPINION: How I learned to embrace the reusable water bottle

Humboldt State hasn't sold water for years now, is it the right call?
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Humboldt State hasn’t sold water for years now, is it the right call?

HSU banned water bottles from campus almost nine years ago. This was done to combat plastic waste and instead have students bring their reusable bottles by using the campuses water bottle station.

It’s great that the University is making an effort in removing plastic waste. According to Humboldt State Now, HSU was the third public university in the nation to remove water bottles from campus. The issue however, is why is there still sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and juice still being stocked on campus?

At first, I was annoyed with the fact that water bottles were banned for sale, but after an interview with Tall Chief Comet, HSU’s sustainability director, it made me consider that there are good intentions to the ban.

“There was economic, social justice, and natural sustainability reasons why the ban was put in place,” Comet said. “Most of the people who wanted the ban were HSU students, not just faculty.”

According to Comet, the production that goes into making water bottles for sale, is sold to consumers for nine times more than the price of getting water from the municipal taps.

Just from 2009 alone, HSU’s Waste- Weduction & Resource Awareness Program Humboldt’s Take Back the Tap discovered that the total number of water bottles sold at HSU was 80,000.

“The production, transportation, storage and disposal of bottled water to meet HSU’s annual bottled water demand requires approximately 43 barrels of oil per academic year and releases 35,300 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” the WRRAP website said.

While the ban does have good intentions, there is a negative side-effect to the ban. Students who come to places like the J or the Campus Marketplace to eat only have unhealthy choices of drinks loaded with sugar. You must have a reusable water bottle in order to drink water.

“The Oh SNAP! program from HSU is looking into the nutritional trade off of the ban,” Comet said

Ron Rudebock, HSU’s dining service director, mentions how 15 years ago HSU was licence with Pepsi, only carrying Pepsi products in campus stores. However, a couple of years ago Pepsi failed to renew the license. HSU was then free to sell whatever products they wanted.

“Since then, we’ve been able to expand our variety of choices for students to drink,” Rudebock. “We have Kombucha and tea’s for a healthier choice; what we have in stock is based on how it (beverage) does in sales.”

There are many factors as to why the ban was put into place and they are valid reasons. The trade off was students’ health on what choices they have on campus, unless students are bringing reusable water bottles.

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