Eight Antioch University New England (AUNE) students involved in the “Think Outside the Bottle Antioch” campaign are asking the AUNE community to just say no to that throwaway bottle of water and drink water from the faucet instead. So far this semester, close to four hundred AUNE faculty, staff, and students have signed a pledge to do so.
The campus campaign is part of the national Think Outside the Bottle campaign coordinated by Corporate Accountability International. It’s also a service-learning project chosen by students in the fall Organizing for Social Change course taught by Steve Chase, director of advocacy for social justice and sustainability.
In a recent development, AUNE added this statement to its Responsible Purchasing Policy’s Implementation Guidelines:
To the greatest extent possible, AUNE will not purchase or use bottled water for any of its campus operations, except in the event that City of Keene tap water is unavailable or unsafe to drink. Every effort also will be made to avoid the purchase/use of bottled water at all off-campus events and to use, in its place, filtered municipal tap water.
In support of the pledge campaign, the AUNE library has a display about water privatization, which includes a campaign pledge sign-up sheet. The library is also hosting daily showings of the water documentary Tapped, at 11:30 a.m. from November 28 through December 2, in its media room. “This is just another amazing way that the library supports student projects and learning,” said Andrea Cadwell, AUNE student and campaign activist.
The students are also asking that bottled water not be sold at AUNE or purchased for AUNE events. Donna Locher, of Donna’s Caf©, has agreed to no longer sell bottled water in her food service. “We can’t thank Donna enough for listening to the strong concern on campus about this issue,” said student and campaign activist Megan Straughen.
John Dunham, also a student campaign activist, sent a thank-you note to AUNE President David Caruso for not including bottled water in the new green vending machines just installed in the student lounge. Dunham and Straughen will meet with Caruso—also a pledge signer—to explore other ways that the institution can support the goals of the campaign.
Some AUNE units are already making changes. The Education, Management, and Environmental Studies Departments, for example, have agreed not to purchase bottled water for their departmental events, and the other departments have been asked to follow suit.
“We also want to make it easier to use tap water at AUNE,” said Mike Sharon, student and campaign activist, who has been working with “Doc” Wicker, director of facilities, and Tim Jordan, vice president of finance and administration, to explore putting faucets on the drinking fountains that make it easy to fill reusable personal water bottles, and installing a filtered hot and cold tap water dispenser in the student lounge like the one in the faculty and staff lounge.
“I’m incredibly proud of how these students have run such an effective campaign for personal and institutional change here,” Chase said. “These students have been applying the theories and skills we are studying, and doing something valuable for AUNE at the very same time.”
The Think Outside the Bottle pledge:
“I pledge to Think Outside The Bottle, which means 1) personally opting for public tap water over buying expensive bottled water, and 2) supporting AUNE’s efforts to prioritize strong public water systems over the needless expense of commercial bottled water, creating massive plastic bottle waste, and letting transnational corporations turn water into a commercial commodity instead of a protected human right.”
Sign the pledge here on-line.