Group Moves Forward Plastic Water Bottle Ban

Staff Writer

The Student Sustainability Collective is continuing green efforts such as the plastic bottle and Styrofoam ban campaigns. One of these campaigns, called “Breaking the Plastic Habit,” aims to replace all disposable plastic bottles with reusable water bottles filled with filtered water.

“Basically, it’s an effort to get plastic water bottles off campus because it takes about 18 gallons of water and 16 gallons of oil just to make the plastic bottle itself,” SSC Director of Food Policy Jared Muscat said.

Former A.S. President Wafa Ben Hassine worked with Housing, Dining and Hospitality to ban on-campus sale of plastic water bottles by the end of Spring Quarter.

The SSC is collaborating with Housing, Dining and Hospitality to create a proposal so that on-campus hydration stations will offer filtered water readily available to students by Fall 2012.

“Instead of having plastic water bottles, the dining halls will have reusable water bottles for sale,” Muscat said. “It’ll help reduce the waste on campus and help what’s now about to become a UC-wide effort of breaking the plastic habit.”

Student organizations are hosting other various campaigns throughout the campus.

“The Public Health group is working on the Born Beautiful campaign,” SSC Director of Public Health Elizabeth Elman said. “The purpose of that is three-fold. The first is to encourage UCSD students to recognize and appreciate the intrinsic beauty. The second is to challenge the stereotypical portrayal of beauty that media, Photoshopping and advertisements perpetuate. And the third focus is to bring attention to ‘pink washing.’”

“Pink washing” is when companies promote carcinogen-producing products by claiming they support breast cancer research. According to Elman, companies guilty of pink washing spend more money advertising the fact that they donate to breast cancer research than they actually do donating.

The Corporate Accountability Group is currently promoting Alta Gracia — a apparel brand found at the bookstore that provides its workers and their families with basic educational, health, food, water and shelter needs.

“It comes from a factory that used to be a sweatshop factory,” Elman said. “But it’s become unionized, and the workers reopened the factory with the union. So now they get paid a living wage, and the clothes aren’t made in sweatshop conditions.”

The SSC will focus on promoting Fair Trade Policy, which got approved during 10th week of Spring Quarter last year, moving forward with Alta Gracia in the bookstore and also promoting sustainable local food and water on campus.

Members of the SSC will also sit in on committees and meetings with Housing and Dining to make sure that the policies that both parties have agreed on are being implemented properly.

“For every year, we want to see through the implementation of these policies because although we pass the policies, usually most of the responsibility on the policies is in Housing and Dining’s hands, and sometimes the implementation can be seen differently by them,” Muscat said.

SCC will also continue to work on the water bottle ban proposal, which passed through HDH this Monday, May 23.

“There are many clauses in [the water bottle ban proposal] demanding an educational program that the Student Sustainability Collective will be setting up with Housing and Dining to reach out to residents on campus, and help them understand the need for this proposal and help them understand the importance of taking back the tap and their right to free, clean water,” Muscat said.

Other initiatives include the Styrofoam ban, an electronics waste effort and the food policy that SCC passed in Spring Quarter of 2009.

The food policy calls for 25 percent sustainable food by 2016 and 35 percent by 2020. SSC will complete biannual checkups and progress reports on this policy.