The Associated Students Board of Directors and the Students for Sustainable Water club are working to ban single-use water bottles on campus. The Water Bottle Initiative was passed last spring after 73 percent of student voters approved it.
The initiative said Western students find the selling of bottled water to be an unsuitable practice and urged the University to discontinue the sale of bottled water on campus.
The campaign started about two years ago with the Fairhaven College course Topics in Social Issues: Sustainable Bellingham, said Carolyn Bowie, co-president of the Students for Sustainable Water club.
After failing to make the ballot two years ago, the initiative made it on last year’s election ballot, Bowie said. Since the elections, the club has been working with the AS Board of Directors to bring the elected initiative to policy.
“Now the initiative is in the hands of [the board] and since they’ve been elected last spring they’ve been working with administration to find out how they can end the sales of bottled water,” Bowie said.
When the board members came into their positions in the summer, they knew something had to be done about the recently approved initiative, AS Vice President of Business Operations Hung Le said.
“Since we do represent the students as elected board members, we try our best to pretty much do whatever they say,” Le said.
The AS created a hospitality policy that covers the purchase of food, beverages and related production cost with AS funds in relation to events and activities that bans the usage of bottled water with only certain exceptions, Le said.
“It pretty much bans the usage of water bottles unless safety or a necessity requires it,” Le said. “We’re trying to start it from a grass roots thing, start from initiative and then go through the AS.”
Of the schools in Washington, Seattle University and The Evergreen State College are the only two to have done the same, Bowie said.
Western junior Mercedes Thomas said while she had little knowledge of what the initiative actually involved, she knew about it and felt it would be a good idea.
“It’s kind of a waste of money to pay for a bottle every time when you could just be refilling it,” she said.
The Green Energy Fee Program completed its first project almost a year ago. With help from the Students for Sustainable Energy club, the program installed water bottle refilling stations in Wade King Student Recreation Center, Arntzen Hall and Old Main.
Bowie said she is hopeful and confident students will take advantage of the newly installed stations.
“They’re a really wonderful and really visible alternative to bottled water,” Bowie said. “I think that’s why people will be swayed to use [them].”
Thomas did not know about the refilling stations, but does have a bottle she refills and will begin using them as a resource due to their convenience, she said.