Take Back the Tap!

11 April 2011

This week our guest blogger is Ellen Drews, a sophomore at Carleton and campus organizer for the national “Take Back the Tap” campaign:

Bottled water is one of the least-regulated industries in the country. It is tested once a week, while the water from our taps is tested hundreds of times a month. Many of the major bottled water brands—including the Dasani and Aquafina brands sold at Carleton—are just tap water repackaged, marked up to thousands of times the public water price. This water is then packaged in plastic bottles, wasting three times as much water as goes into the bottle, and using between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil. 


This poses serious environmental problems, especially since 3 out of every 4 bottled water bottles end up in landfills, even though they could be recycled. In addition, the sources of water—such as aquifers—that these companies draw from are often unable to support such heavy use.


But there are even bigger problems associated with the trend towards water privatization. Forbes Magazine said that water is becoming the oil of the 21st century, and by 2025, the World Health Organization estimates that 2/3 of the world will not have access to water. We rarely see the conflicts and injustice that occur over water access in the United States, and particularly not here at Carleton. But the water-justice movement is about so much more than conserving fossil fuels and reducing waste. It’s a human rights issue.


That’s why we’re launching the Take Back the Tap campaign at Carleton this term!  We think water should be safe, clean, and affordable for everyone, not a luxury item for only the wealthy. We’re calling on Carleton students, faculty, student groups, and offices to pledge to shift away from the bottled brands. Carleton has made serious commitments to becoming a sustainable campus, and students don’t drink much bottled water. Let’s get bottled water officially off-campus by passing a CSA resolution to end funding for bottled water, and eventually remove it from the bookstore, vending machines, and athletic concessions!


To do it, we’re hosting events about water issues to raise awareness of what’s going on behind the water we buy. We screened the award-winning documentary, Blue Gold: World Water Wars a couple weeks ago, and we’ll be showing another documentary called Tapped on Wednesday, April 20th at 7pm in Leighton 305. We will also be working with Student Activities, CSA, and Bon Appetit to get alternatives to bottled water into our campus facilities – and we need as many people as possible to pledge their support as possible.


I am inspired by the idea that we can help fight for justice in Africa and Bolivia and Michigan and Los Angeles and Northfield right here at Carleton by taking a stand against bottled water, educating ourselves on water issues, and officially making Carleton a bottled-water free campus. So look for the Take Back the Tap and water-related events going on all around campus this term. I’ll see you there!