A new, eco-friendly alternative to bottled water is available on campus. The new carton, pioneered by Neil Tomlinson, is a ‘green’ response to criticisms regarding the sustainability of the bottled water widely available in Union shops. Jamal Maxey, in a recent edition of the Badger, explained that the potential success of Aquapax is hindered by the competition of the more economical Meal Deal, meaning that despite the progress in sustainable consumerism the Aquapax could make, bottled water is still being sold more cheaply. This follows the news that Leeds University Students’ Union has become the first university to stop selling bottled water in its campus shops.
Tap water remains the most sustainable form of the commodity, and studies in America and Canada have linked the decrease in available tap/pipe water to a continuation of the commercialisation of our education provision. These surveys indicate that access to water fountains, and in some cases tap water altogether, is limited on most campuses in these countries, which will also concern students in the UK.
This is an issue that was raised by the recently elected Welfare Officer, Ciaran Whitehead. Whitehead campaigned for an increase in the provision of water fountains around campus, which, along with the Aquapax carton, would provide students at Sussex with an alternative to buying plastic bottles.
“If the sale of water on campus must continue then Aquapax can provide students with a greener option”
If the sale of water on campus must continue then Aquapax can provide students with a greener option, with half the carbon footprint of the plastic bottled version. Tomlinson, who worked with Sussex students on the packaging design of the Aquapax, is committed to revolutionising the water market “by offering an ‘ecologically sound’ alternative to plastic bottled brands”. He has said that “there’s nothing wrong with tap water, but all the while demand for bottled water was going mad. If you can’t beat the market, then you can change it”. The Aquapax joins several recent water initiatives working to reverse the negative environmental effects of bottled water.
If Sussex Students’ Union wants to tackle the environmental problems of bottled water, it needs to be more proactive in its removal of incentives to buy plastic. It needs to get rid of enticements like the Meal Deals that only include non-local and non-environmentally friendly options. If students need to buy water rather than obtain it by a free means, the Aquapax provides us with the Greenest way of doing so.