A new campaign is set to begin to ensure that students have access to drinking fountains on campus by the end of next term. The campaign will coincide with Green Week, 5-11 March, Week 9 of Spring Term.
The founders of the campaign want to have drinking fountains available in areas that are easily accessible. They also hope to get the union shops to stock cheaper, environmentally responsible, reusable bottles in union shops.
Tom Chadwick, one of the minds behind the plan to bring drinking fountains to campus explained that the campaign hopes to “provide an easily accessible alternative to buying bottled water – currently bottled water is the only easily accessible source of drinking water on campus. Tied to this is to draw attention to the unnecessary financial burden of buying bottled water.
“We don’t think it’s very fair that students and staff are made to pay so much money for bottled water just because it is the only available source of water on campus. It is currently sold at an average of 2,000 times the price that it costs to produce. Basically that’s like buying a £1.50 sandwich for £3,000.
“In more general terms we would like to improve the university’s general environmental policy regarding this issue. Finally we want to try and publicise the absurd environmental consequences of the bottled water industry.”
At Green Week, Chadwick added that they “are going to sell large water bottles which are made of reusable recycled aluminium at about two pounds each to try as an alternative to the ones in the shop.
“We are going to have lots of stalls and posters to try and publicise the issue. We are also going to have taste tests of shop-bought water versus tap water to see if people can actually tell the difference. So please come along and try it out.”
The issue of water bottles and water fountains came up in 2009, in a motion proposed by Jethro Gauld, and seconded by Biz Bliss, the current Operations Officer for the Students’ Union for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) entitled, ‘Motion on the removal of bottled water from sale in the Union’.
In the motion, it was suggested that the union would resolve to “gradually phase out bottled water from its shops”.
The motion passed at the AGM but was not implemented for technical reasons at Council, though it has informed the union’s current policy on drinking fountains.
Biz Bliss said of the campaign: “Students and staff have long been asking for drinking fountains on campus. The union, on instruction from students, has got the ball rolling by installing drinking fountains in Falmer House. The university should now follow suit by dramatically increasing the accessibility to free, quality drinking water on campus.
“Until adequate provisions are made, demand for bottled water won’t cease. With practical action and education, this campaign could have a significant impact on our environmental footprint here at Sussex.”