What is Sustain Champlain?

Sustain Champlain is a campus-wide initiative strives to infuse sustainability concepts and practices across Champlain College by coordinating and promoting best practices within four areas: our institution, academics, operations, and culture.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Going Mindful- Plastic Water Bottle Reduction & Eco-Friendly Coffee Shops

Hello, Fellow Beavers,

You’ve probably heard your parents talk about ‘back in the day’, when they could buy a Coca-Cola for five cents. The cost inflation isn’t the only thing that has changed since then. It used to be that all soft drinks came in glass bottles- you’ve probably seen the throwback styles sold in four packs at local supermarkets. During the 1950’s, plastic water bottles became increasingly popular. What was most concerning was a corporation that backed them called ‘Keep America Beautiful.’ Such a nice sounding name, right? Anyway, Vermont had outlawed disposable containers in 1953 after dairy farmers fought out against people who were throwing the empty containers on the side of their road. The cows, curious cows, were eating the plastic bottles and dying. The plastic bottle industry most likely saw Vermont’s law as something that could unhinge their new product. And suddenly group Keep America Beautiful pops up! They coined the term ‘litter’ and said "Trash only becomes litter when it's been thoughtlessly discarded." Instead of blaming the plastic bottles they blamed ‘careless’ citizens and during the 70’s started the idea of recycling. Now, I’m not saying that people are let off the hook! Even today only 80% of left over containers are properly recycled. However, how it came about was all very seedy. We will probably be stuck with plastic water bottles for many decades, I doubt those will be going away anytime soon, but we can choose to make a difference!

When I was younger, I used to be adamantly against bottled water. My coaches and friends parents loved supplying games and households with Deer Park Water. Ugh, Ugh, the taste. It was as if you were drinking liquid plastic. Several years later I was introduced to Poland Springs water, which so happens to be from my home state: Maine. Poland Springs was nothing like Deer Park. There was no plastic taste! It wasn’t long before I was shunning most tap water and drinking more exclusive brands like Fuji water (which may have more skeletons in its closet than KAB). I was attracted to waters with added electrolytes, water that was purified, water from aqueducts, water that came in simplistic, yet chic, bottles. I splurged, yes splurged, on brands like Voss. Note: a twelve pack of these 27 oz bottles will set you back $55 dollars! I grumbled when I came to college, with less of mommy and daddy’s money, and had to buy Price Chopper brand water. I knew about Brita & Pur filters, but I’d have to buy at least seven packages of bottle water for it to be cheaper. It wasn’t until this past month that I started to take a look at my water bottle habits.

I work for Sustain Champlain and was given a snazzy water bottle made from stainless steel. I tried putting in my usual mix of one part lemonade and, like, five parts water. It tasted horrible and made the bottle smell pretty bad as well. I placed it on my desk and didn’t touch it for a few days—I still had a few plastic bottles tucked away in the mini fridge. Of course, it wasn’t long before those were gone, and the Sustain Champlain bottle was staring me down. I finally took three minutes out of my day and washed the darn thing. I figured ‘ no more lemonade, just water,’ and our relationship has been amazing. I admit, it took me a few days to get use to it. The aluminum makes cold water even colder, but after awhile it stopped bothering me. I was paranoid that someone would snag it at any opportune moment. At my old boarding school, unclaimed Nalgene’s were fair game. So, I smiled at every table outside of the dining hall, pretended to be interested, and snagged their free stickers to decorate the outside. Now no one is stealing my bottle! And then there was my horrible knack of losing everything; problem solved, the bottle comes with a carabineer that I hook onto my tote. Overall, I was shocked at how stubborn I had been about switching over. I blamed every reason on the bottle instead of looking at my lazy habits and irrational thoughts. Who really complains about ‘too cold’ water?!

There are many water bottles out there for consumers to buy that are eco and body friendly (i.e free of BPA, a chemical in plastics that is thought to cause early puberty, prostate issues, and a slew of other problems. Scientists are still investigating, but why not be safe rather than sorry). As nice as they are, you don’t have to spend $20 on a Sigg water bottle. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part of having your own water bottle. The water is free! Fill up at the dining hall or any fountain.

Now, I promised ya’ll that I’d be going around to Burlington Coffee shops and figuring out if you can drink there and still be mindful. Most coffee shops tend to be environmentally savvy and give deals to customers that bring in their own mugs (bonus: you don’t have to buy their official mug; any mug will do) For those who don’t, most of the places offered containers that were either compostable or recyclable. Here’s the break down.

Lake Champlain Chocolates: They make the most amaaaaaazing hot chocolate!

Cold Drink Cups: Compostable

Hot Drinks: …We weren’t quite able to figure it out!

However, you can bring in your own mug for either hot or cold drink and they’ll fill it!

Starbucks: I admit, I didn’t have high hopes. But, I was wrong!

Cold Drink Cups: Recyclable

Discounts: 10 cents off if you bring in a mug. One regular even brings in a mason jar. Note: the jar gets very hot!

Uncommon Grounds: Also makes wonderful vegan cupcakes.

Cold Drinks: Compostable

Straws: Compostable

Hot Drinks: Not compostable because of the wax lining

Bring in your own mug!

Radio Bean: Haven’t been, but I’ve heard wonderful things.

Hot Drinks: Not compostable because of the wax lining

Discounts: 25 cents off if you bring in your own mug!

Healthy Living Market: I always crave their pomegranate-mango smoothie. If you have a campus special booklet, there is a coupon for a free smoothie

Cold Drinks: Compostable

Now, I hope you’ll go out and procure a reusable container. You’ll be producing less waste, and in my opinion you’ll have a stronger connection to what you’re drinking. This next week I’ll be decreasing my long, luxurious shower time in hopes of lowering my water usage. Of course this is the week it starts to get cold out. See you next Tuesday!

For more information on Keep America Beautiful, BPA, and Fuji Water, click below

KAB: http://www.alternet.org/environment/21651

BPA: http://www.bisphenol-a.org/

Fuji Water: http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle


Natalie said...

A link to a really interesting expose on Fiji water...

Also if you use a jar make sure to keep in mind that you should not under any circumstances DROP your purse...the jar will break and ruin all electronics that are in your purse/backpack. That's my PSA.

Great job Jocellyn....really interesting and informative!


Christina said...

Well supported comments. I think the KAB also has significant links to the aluminum industry -- think of all those soda and beer cans!