Column by Matt Roth
Roth is a first-year philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is something you don’t hear every day: saving the environment can sometimes be more wasteful than beneficial. Take for example the movement we had on campus last semester to ban the sale of bottled water. Obviously this movement had good intentions -— to cut back on the use of plastic and to save resources. However, the movement eventually dissipated, and we thankfully can still buy bottled water on campus.
Let’s be honest about the implications of the movement. Even if it were successful in banning the sale of water bottles, consider the fact that the university would still be selling other bottled beverages like our much-revered iced coffees and soda. So what’s the point in eliminating just one source of plastic usage while many others still exist? Additionally, consider how often you forget your refillable water bottle after working out and need to buy a bottle of water to replenish your thirst. Questions like these halted the movement in its tracks and fortunately stopped it. Out of this defeat, however, there is a very important lesson that we can learn about picking our battles.
Fighting to protect the environment takes time and resources. It should be keen to pick a battle that will have the most beneficial outcomes for what a person puts into it. Going back to the failed water bottle ban, its intention should have been to cut back on how much bottled water is sold and encourage students to use their refillable water bottles as often as possible. That goal seems much more realistic and easier to achieve than a flat-out ban on the sale of water bottles. While I am all for helping preserve our planet, we first need to pick the right battles.
Correction: The water bottle ban, while not having been implemented this semester, the ban is set to start during the fall 2013 semester. Sodexo Catering will work to implement the change by bringing in more bottle filling stations. Student Senate and the university President’s Cabinet both supported the change.