In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, Yukon College has become the latest school in Canada to ban the sale of single-serve water bottles.
When students returned to class Tuesday, college staff were busy handing out plastic reusable bottles to use instead.
About three weeks ago Yukon College installed two water-filtration stations with extra high taps next to standard drinking fountains.
Students can fill their own containers with chilled water from the machine without having to buy a bottle that would likely end up in the landfill.
Colleen Wirth, director of student and infrastructure support, said the decision to stop selling the bottles came because the college wants to be a leader when it comes to environmental sustainability.
“Every time a plastic bottle goes to the landfill it’s there for many, many years,” she said.
The new gizmos keep track of how many times they’re used. The number of water bottles saved is displayed on a small screen.
Right now the college has one filling station on its main floor and one in the main academic wing. There are plans to install a third one in the trades wing, Wirth said.
They cost about $5,000 each.
In the past, the college’s bookstore alone has sold between 200 to 250 bottles of water a month, Wirth said. The numbers for places like the cafeteria or the vending machines have never been tracked.
“Staff and faculty have told me, even in the last two weeks, that they’re drinking more water because it’s just so easy to fill their container and take it back to their area,” she said.
If the online response is any indication, others seem to be keen on the idea too. Wirth said news of the plan to stop selling bottled water is the most shared Facebook event the college has ever done.
As of yesterday, it had been shared and liked by more than 8,500 people.
Yukon College is not the first place in the territory to offer these kinds of filling stations.
Over the past five years the stations at the Canada Games Centre have dispensed the equivalent of 245,000 bottles according to Krista Mroz, the manager of recreation and facility services.
Canadian universities, including Toronto’s Ryerson University, the University of Ottawa, Brandon University in Manitoba and Memorial University in St John’s have all ended the sale of bottled water on campus.
The International Council of Bottled Water Associations estimates that in 2000, 820 million litres of bottled water were produced for Canadian consumption. By 2003 that jumped to almost 1.5 billion litres.
Almost three in 10 households reported drinking bottled water in the home, according to the most recent Statistics Canada numbers from 2006.
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