The basic essentials of life are few: food, water, and oxygen. Though all these are important, water has been a hot topic at FDU.
There is no question that water is not optional; it is necessary for all living creatures, which is why companies have created such a large market-share around it.
Unlike materialistic items that are frivolous to daily life, executives at water companies know that people will buy water because they need it.
On March 8 at 7 p.m., Lenfell Hall hosted a Hot Topics session entitled, “Should FDU Ban Bottled Water?”
The panelists in the discussion included Julianne Aiello, Director of Marketing/Sustainable Development, Gourmet Dining Services; Professor James Salierno, Green Club adviser; Professor Lona Whitmarsh; and FDU students Chauna Mason and Matthew Sisco.
The discussion was moderated by faculty members Amber Charlebois and Kent Fairfield.
The event was co-sponsored by the Sustainable Campus Committee and Becton College of Arts and Sciences.
These seven individuals collaborated to create a fun and informative session.
The room was divided into separate sections, as there were two parts to the lecture.
Fairfield led the discussion first by asking, “To what extent do you think bottled water should be banned, on a scale of one to ten, ten being the strongest?”
On a small piece of paper, answers to the question were written and saved for the end of the lecture to see if the numbers changed.
Before the panelists spoke, Fairfield guided the audience into a classroom-like discussion where the audience was broken up into groups.
In those groups, participants read a brief article and discussed how the issue could be resolved.
The article, “Christina Laughton Reconsiders Her Company’s Bottled Water Sales,” included the subtitle, “I wonder how folks will react when I argue for blowing away 5% of the company’s profits.”
Pretending to be Christina’s consultant, students and faculty in the audience were asked simply: “What should Chris do?”
There were a variety of answers among the groups of about eight members each.
Many addressed the issue from a business point of view, suggesting alternative ways to still gain revenue while banning the bottle: sell plastic or other “green” bottles possibly with the FDU logo or fraternity or sorority letters with Fairleigh1 Card Cash, set up water cooler stations around campus for a flat fee included in tuition or educate students on the benefits of these bottles.
Yet throughout this discussion, there was an underlying theme of the need for drinking reusable bottles to be “trendy.”
It has become such a cultural norm to drink disposable beverages that drinking from anything else could actually cause great difficulty.
Yet, how did the plastic water bottle become such a cultural symbol, and how is it any different than drinking from a plastic reusable bottle?
One of the major reasons for this is that many claim the taste of bottled water is different from tap, and therefore arguably healthier.
However, contrary to what many think, tap water is actually cleaner and has the same health benefits.
Water from the faucet is checked up to 400 times a month by the Environmental Protection Agency, whereas bottled water is inspected only once.
The Food and Drug Administration allows the use of the “honor system” with major bottle companies like Nestle and Poland Springs.
They make those bottles attractive to appeal to consumers as a marketing strategy.
When the panelists spoke, important points that people often neglect to acknowledge were brought to light: 14 percent of the global population does not have clean water.
According to Salierno, “We need to think about literally, what we have right around the corner.”
The impact water bottles have on the environment is monumental.
Only 20 percent of water bottles actually get recycled.
Reusable water bottles would save millions of gallons in oil.
Luckily, FDU is helping students take small steps towards better recycling habits through educational lectures and RecycleMania.
If town residents get fined for not recycling, should there not be a consequence on campus as well?
The interactive lecture ended with four Brita water bottles being given away, courtesy of Whitmarsh.
The audience was also left with some final statistics, ideas and truthful clichés, not to mention the changing of the numbers on those small ripped pieces of paper.
People spend $100 billion on bottled water a year, which is good for big business, but detrimental to the environment. Bottled water is 10,000 times more expensive than tap.
With the world population skyrocketing to 8 to 11 billion by 2050, all are encouraged to “think globally and act locally,” “reduce, reuse, and recycle” and “think outside the bottle.”
In the words of Whitmarsh, “Personal changes are the gateway to global change.”