Last Thursday, the UTMSU Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the UTM Green Team, started a campus-wide campaign against bottled water.
The event, known as “National Bottled Water Free Day,” aims to make people aware of how public water is as beneficial as bottled water. Various universities across Canada participated as well.
The event took place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the CCIT building, with various student volunteers operating the booths. Others educated their peers in lecture classrooms, and organized other avenues on the issues surrounding the debate.
At the end of the event, many students had signed a pledge that read, “I will not drink bottled water where public water is available.”
An environmentalist staffing the booth and the display boards of the Ministry educated students on the hazards of the chemical compound Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), the main ingredient in most plastic water bottles. Bottles made with PET generate a thousand times more toxic emissions than an equivalent amount of glass.
A volunteer team also informed students about environmentally friendly water bottles, which were on sale in the Student Centre.
Lastly, the price of bottled water was also criticized—it can cost 1,000 times more than tap water. After hearing the statistics, many students expressed startled responses to their consumption of bottled water.
“I can’t imagine how much money we spend to buy bottled water from the vending machine, when this money can be used to buy back our OSAP or tuition fees,” said student Jasvin Rathode.
The Ministry of Environment and various activists believe that corporations such as Dasani, Nestle and Coca Cola are aggressively pushing bottled water on campus and elsewhere.
“The facts speak for themselves; bottled water consumption is on the rise for the most ridiculous reasons,” said a student who attended the event. “One in three Canadians consume bottled water as their main source, whereas the regular tap water, which is tested three times a day daily, and is almost as clean and healthy as bottled water, is often ignored over bottled water.”
Under the platform of the National Bottled Water Free Day, many environmental peer-educators also denounced what they called the complicity of Canadian water-producing companies into coercing the government to block the ratification of the United Nations Covenant on the Right to Water. Under this treaty, Canada would have to ensure access to clean drinking water for the First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities that various corporate giants like Coca Cola and other want to be dependent on bottled water.
The Ministry hopes that such activism and public-education campaigns will serve to forge a more equitable and sustainable environment for the present and future generations.