A new student-led campaign will be officially launching next semester to help spread awareness about the current state of the environment.
Environmentally conscious Ohio University students Christie McFarland and Leah Wilson have been working on their Take Back The Tap campaign this semester. The campaign started in their SOUL Environmental Studies 4900 class and is dedicated to keeping water a public service rather than a corporate commodity. As outlined in McFarland and Wilson’s proposal, they want to ban water bottle sales on OU’s campus by first targeting campus markets, Baker University Center and vending machines.
TBTT joined Food & Water Watch, a non-profit organization of environmental activists and advocates for social justice that has worked with 60 universities across the country to try to end plastic water bottle sales. Food & Water Watch helped set up a stipend for McFarland and Wilson to use each semester for supplies to help organize and educate other students interested in the campaign.
“They’ve taught me how to organize a campaign and how to be in contact with administration, and to work with the university on our project,” McFarland said about the training she’s done with Food & Water Watch.
According to an article from Business Insider, water bottle sales in 2012 reached $11.8 billion in the United States. Food & Water Watch has stated that in 2009, 48.7 percent of bottled water was actually municipal tap water. McFarland said that fact “is ironic because you’re paying for water provided to you, and the companies selling it advertise that it is safer than tap water. Worldwide sales total over $100 billion per year, which is more than enough to provide every person in the world with clean water.”
“It would be a big statement for the university to ban the sales of bottles,” McFarland said, adding that 90 college campuses have banned bottles in one form or another.
Not only does this issue have an environmental impact, but it also delves into social justice with how water has turned into a product instead of a right for people. It is estimated to cost $0.02 to provide water for every person.
TBTT will officially launch next semester and hopes to gather more students to further awareness of this issue at OU. McFarland and Wilson plan to have screenings for documentary films, including Tapped and Flow, while continuing to table and petition to students outside of Baker Center. They also plan to have water taste tests to show the lack of difference between the taste of bottled water and tap water.
“Mindlessly consuming things affects not only one single person, and through buying water bottles, we treat water as a privilege instead of a basic human right,” McFarland said.
McFarland and Wilson both demonstrate what it takes to be an activist and I wish them the best of luck with their campaign.
Grant Stover is a sophomore studying English and a concerned environmentalist. Email him at email@example.com