Think outside the bottle

A water bottle can be an easy way to hydrate healthily. But what happens when these plastic bottles have served their purpose? Only 20 percent of plastic bottles get recycled, which can negatively impact the environment by polluting air and water. UTSA’s Green Society–a group that promotes environmental activism, has begun a campaign to challenge large corporate manufacturers of water bottles by asking whether their water is, “Pure life–or pure lies”?

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, students involved in the “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign held a blind taste test to see if students could guess the difference between tap water and bottled water.

This event was held in conjunction with many taste tests organized around the nation by Corporate Accountability International, an organization aimed at protecting health, the environment and human rights.

The taste was set up at a table in the University Center Paseo. Students were given the opportunity to blindly taste tap water and bottled water to see if they could tell the difference between the two. Chad Sundol, the green society member who organized “Think Outside the Bottle,” noted that “many people could not tell the difference between Nestle and good old UTSA tap water.”

What many people don’t know, is that bottled water such as Nestle Pure life and Aquafina, is actually just tap water. Sundol himself was motivated to stop drinking bottled water when he learned that it was the same as the water that comes from the tap.

Corporate Accountability International also states that tap water may even be healthier than bottled water. Municipally run water companies are heavily regulated by the government to ensure that tap water is healthy and clean. Bottled water is not held to this high of a standard.

Sundol said that the plastic used for the bottles can be potentially hazardous. The bottled water is stored and shipped in hot containers and trailers, which causes the plastic to break down at the molecular level. “The plastic contains at least 17 known carcinogens and these end up in the water.”

Nestle markets their Pure Life brand of water as “the responsible choice for healthy families” What many of these “healthy families” are unaware of is that bottled water is 2,000 times more expensive than water taken from the tap. For students in college, this unnecessary expense can quickly add up.

As a result of the Nov. 2 taste test, 27 students signed a pledge to opt for public tap water over bottled water, and to urge their public officials to redirect taxpayer money away from bottled water companies and towards public water systems.

Sundol, who will be graduating in May 2012, would ultimately like to see Aramark discontinue selling Aquafina bottled water, but, is happy for igniting a spark with the underclassmen who can now make this their campaign.

Currently, Aramark’s incentive for students to be green comes in the form of a large mug that students can refill with tap water for a quarter at designated stations around campus. While recycling is an effective way to reduce pollution, reducing consumption is ultimately the best way for students to reduce their environmental impact.

For students interested in environmental activism, The Green Society and its Think Outside the Bottle campaign meets every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in the University Center Bexar Room. However, any student can opt to go green by simply choosing to think outside the bottle.