Courtney Wengerd – Social Media Editor
Approximately 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per year in the United States. Roughly 38 billion of those plastic water bottles end up in a landfill according to the campaign Ban The Bottle.
Some of these trashed bottles can be traced back to Hesston College.
For the year so far, food service manager Melissa Unruh said 840 bottles of water have been purchased for carry out meals and snacks for sports teams. With 300 students, that’s under three bottles of water per person according to Unruh.
Some Hesston College students and faculty are more avid drinkers of bottled water than others, like sophomore Mason Davis. Davis said he purchases enough bottles of water to drink at least one per basketball practice.
“I prefer to drink bottled water when I can because it tastes better than tap water,” said Davis.
In addition, Davis finds bottled water more accessible and convenient.
Other students and faculty have alternate solutions to bottled water. Randy Toews, campus facilities worker, coordinates recycling around campus and recognizes the impact of bottled water on the environment.
“There are many other more sustainable options we could choose from- refillable bottles, mugs, or just using a drinking fountain,” said Toews.
Freshman Megan Baumgartner does just that, carrying her reusable Nalgene water bottle wherever she goes. She also takes a more economical view on bottled water.
“Why would you pay for water when it’s free?” said Baumgartner.
It’s clear not every person enjoys drinking water straight from the tap or carrying around a reusable
bottle. It’s also clear the popular consumption of bottled water results in damaging our environment, a point Hesston College’s Campus Stewardship Council wants to bring to their attention.
The CSC, a group devoted to developing sustainable facilities and practices, has discussed possible solutions, according to member Paul Regier, instructor of natural science.
“One idea we had last year was to give each student a quality portable mug or bottle at the beginning of the year, then eliminate water bottles in vending machines,” said Regier.
Beyond Hesston College students and faculty, a new solution is on the rise that results not from thinking outside the box, but from within.
The emerging company Boxed Water is Better markets water in a box, similar to a quart sized milk carton. Boxed Water claims to be safer for the environment while giving back. According to the company’s website, about 76 percent of the container is from trees, a renewable resource. Plastic bottles, on the other hand, are made of oil.
The packaging of Boxed Water is also environmentally friendly.
“We ship our boxes flat to our filler which is significantly more efficient compared to shipping empty plastic or glass bottles to be filled,” said founder Benjamin Gott on the company’s site.
The company gives back to the environment by donating 20 percent of its profits towards water relief and reforestation foundations.
But is the box’s bold message, “Boxed Water is Better,” really a true statement?
Marelby Mosquera, Hesston College chemistry instructor, said Boxed Water was a great solution. She said while the cost may be higher than regular bottled water, the boxes are more sustainable than accumulating and attempting to recycle the plastic.
“It seems like a sustainable alternative in terms of reducing carbon footprint,” said Mosquera.