by Jamie Leventhal
Stock up on those SmartWater bottles you can only buy with your parents’ money while you still can, wildcats. Northwestern C-Stores are about to go plastic-free.
Pura Playa, a student-run organization aimed at reducing plastic waste on campus, has passed a resolution to phase out plastic water bottles on campus C-Stores after years of working with Faculty Senate, school administrators and ASG. According to a message from one of Pura Playa’s project managers, Katherine Rodzak, C-Stores will start moving away from bottled water this quarter and continue throughout the year. However, the organization is looking into supplying Northwestern with alternatives to quench its thirst.
“We’ve been exploring putting in more water bottle refilling stations, and we also received thousands of free [reusable] water bottles,” said Pura Playa member Alex Furlong. “Gatorade, soda, stuff like that will still be sold.”
Although Pura Playa has made great strides with their plastic water bottle ban, their main mission is to make a much larger impact.
“It’s more about the education, so we want students to know what their impact is going to be and how to make environmentally conscious choices,” Furlong said. “Physically there will be less plastic in the environment, but…we’re helping the student body to realize that…because you can’t buy water bottles here, that should indicate to them that they maybe shouldn’t buy them elsewhere.”
According to a report by the Pacific Institute, Americans buy over 29 billion bottles of water per year. All of that adds up to 17 million barrels of crude oil just to make the bottles, and does not include the oil used in shipping and distribution. That oil could fuel over a million cars for a whole year.
Pura Playa seeks to combine their plastic reduction program with education, so people can adopt a new, less wasteful lifestyle. And it’s already working.
“I think it’s a good idea because there’s usually a water fountain about 10 feet away from the C-Store,” said Weinberg sophomore Alex Cohen. “People can get into the habit of bringing water bottles with them.”
This ban was a huge accomplishment for Pura Playa, and the group hopes that its impacts will continue beyond Northwestern.
“I’m excited about it. I think it’s a step in the right direction for the university and I think it will be good for students too,” Furlong said. “When they go out after college, they will be more educated about how their consumption affects the environment.”
Goodbye electrolyte-infused water, hello healthy planet.