In April, VendingMarketWatch featured an article from the Des Moines Register on the successful student-led campaign to ban the sale of single serve bottled water. I can’t help it. I had to do a double and triple check to make sure that I had understood the story correctly. Surely this couldn’t be true, could it? Well, it is and all I can really say is I wish I was young again.
You see, when I went to college, I probably would’ve been on board to help save the Earth by joining this effort to ban single serve bottled water. I mean, come on, why spend the money to actually buy water when it’s all over for free? I’d have gone to bed feeling better that I somehow made a difference. I did my part!
However, I’ve gotten older and now see the world in an actual bigger picture, not just the one that I thought for sure I knew when I was in college. After all, aren’t we all know-it-alls when we are in college? But I digress. With the push to make healthier choices, bottled water sales have grown over the years. We’ve made it a convenient option for consumers to purchase water. Now we are going to applaud them for their choice in beverage, but tell them it’s not good enough because the environment could suffer? Whatever happened to the campaigns of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? I think the message was pretty clear and gave an option for all of us to use. However you practice the three R’s is up to you, but at least you have a choice. The choice wasn’t made for you as it was for those at Drake University.
Lost educational opportunity
If these students would’ve thought a little bit further about the bigger picture, maybe they would’ve seen a different opportunity to accomplish two objectives instead of giving people guilt complexes. The students cannot deny that drinking water is good for you and they should continue to support the effort. They need to also realize that bottled water is a convenience, similar to that of any single serve beverage. While the effort to provide everyone with a reusable water bottle to be used at refilling stations is commendable, they could’ve also reached out to the school and the vendors to partner on increasing recycling awareness.
What will be interesting is to tab these students ten years after they have left college to see how much their bottled water ban really saved the Earth — or even if the ban is still in place and what their feelings would be. The moral of the story is this: instead of running around trying to ban everything that might hurt something, I wish society would take a step back and try to work out a compromise that helps everyone in the long term, instead of what you feel passionate about today.