Type to search


Attempt to conserve plastic unsuccessful

Column by Matt Roth

Roth is a first-year philosophy major and can be reached at matthew.roth@drake.edu

MattRoth-w2000-h2000Here 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.


1 Comment

  1. Check The Facts February 14, 2013

    Mr. Roth,

    I am under the impression that Drake University will not sell bottled water in 2013. The ban did not fail and actually succeeded. You should research this more. Also it is not that hard to fill up a water bottle.

    What you should be worried about is consumer choice and how this ruins the freedom consumers have to choose their products. An educated consumer would never buy bottled water because it is marked up more than a gallon of gasoline and water fountains are all over. But as a consumer, I enjoy the fact that I can go to Kum & Go and buy a 52 oz pop and Michelle Obama can only judge me.

    Saying that the movement is pointless is…pointless. Small changes are the most effective and a step in the right direction is still in the right direction. I am not sure of the usage on Drake’s campus, but the Sodexho suppliers will call and ask them why they stopped purchasing bottled water. The sales man will get the answer and forward it along to his management team as a movement to look out for.

    As for your alternatives, I like blackle.com, but does it provide me with amusing graphics that I can stare at during class? And the cute tote bags? They are not cute at all and are the equivalent of cargo shorts. The blue recycling bin is better used at the side of my bed after a rough, but fun weekend. Finally, I eat meat everyday because I am a man. Also the less cows in the world the better. Their farts alone could destroy the ozone layer! I do like Greek salads, but only as a side with my lamb.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

Skip to content