The purpose of this study was to identify how to reduce bottled water use on our campus, given that the majority of students were bringing it onto campus from outside sources. Bottled water bans have been implemented on several college and university campuses in an effort to reduce the consumption of bottled water and the associated waste. Observations on the campus of Allegheny College demonstrated that while bottled water was being consumed, students were not purchasing those bottles on campus.
To identify methods to reduce bottled water prevalence on campus, alter negative perceptions of local tap water and create behavioral changes among student, an environmental science class surveyed the student body. Students were asked about their preferred type of drinking water and why they preferred one type to another, as well as additional questions about reusable bottle ownership and usage.
The data identified that disposable bottled water was most commonly consumed by first year students, with rates of use decreasing the longer students are on campus. Many students were concerned about the safety of tap water and did not like the taste.
As a result of this survey, Allegheny College has increased the number of filtered, bottle refill stations throughout campus and provides a high-quality, metal water bottle to all students upon beginning their first year. Students are also provided information about the safety of Meadville tap water, as well as the environmental and social benefits of choosing tap water over bottled water.
Choate, B., Davis, B.Y. and Verrecchia, J. (2018), "Campus bottled water bans, not always the solution", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 987-997. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-06-2017-0089
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