ASUU’s Water Bottle Refill Station Project Comes to a Close


Kiffer Creveling

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

First they appeared in the library. Then, the social work building. Now, refillable water bottle stations are in nearly every building on campus.
Last February, ASUU passed a bill allocating $9,500 to install 15 new refillable water bottle stations on campus. The bill was sponsored by Mark Pittman, an appointed member of three ASUU boards, including the Socially Responsible Investments Committee. The installation process ended Nov. 17.
Pittman, a graduate student in business administration and law, said most of the funds came from the colleges where the stations are installed.
“Installation is the most expensive part, especially [in] old buildings,” Pittman said. “It’s a $75,000 project. The U is putting up lots of money for this … something like $20,000 from the colleges, and the rest from the administration.”
When the first stations were built in 2011, Karren Nichols and Alex Quitiquit, former students in sociology and economics, created an exhibit in the library on why the stations were being installed.
The exhibit said: “These filling stations fill water bottles fast with cold, filtered water. Using a refillable water bottle keeps money in your pocket, reduces waste and conserves resources … If every student and employee at the U used a refillable water bottle, it would keep more than 8 million bottles out of our landfill each year.”
Every station uses an LED screen, tallying how many plastic bottles have been spared from landfills.
Jon Kenkel, a graduate student in electronic arts and engineering, said he uses the refill stations a few times a day but isn’t sure about the benefits of the stations.
“I can fill a water bottle just as easy with a normal drinking fountain,” he said.
Kenkel said having the stations does make it easy to fill his water bottle.
“Having [the refill station] here makes it easier to fill this up than just going and buying sodas or something,” Kenkel said. “I use it because it looks pretty, I guess.”
However, Kenkel said the environmental justifications aren’t enough for him.
“I kinda treat it the same way you see things that track how much electricity you use online,” Kenkel said. “I don’t really do things that random numbers tell me.”
Pittman said the bill came from student demand.
“Someone has to take the student feedback, and champion that cause,” he said. “I was an ASUU representative, so I had the ability to introduce legislation to get funding.”
The bill received unanimous support from ASUU. Pittman said another bill to fund electric vehicle charging stations had about 60 percent of representative support.
“It was enough to get it through — we only need majority — but there was a lot of dissent,” Pittman said.
Both of these projects are how Pittman said he wants to create a more sustainable campus.
“You can’t demand immediate change,” he said. “It’s not how the university is run. You can’t expect the university to ask for immediate de-investment from oil or gas companies — it’s too dramatic. Diversifying that portfolio slowly, and encouraging student demand on campus and student voices is really important.”
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