Petition to Ban Plastic Water Bottle Fuels Student Dialogue
by Kira Weiner
Chapman University senior Jen Feinstein has trouble pinpointing exactly when her interest in sustainable living started.
“I can’t ignore it,” Feinstein said. “I feel like I would be lying to myself if I didn’t continuously try to be sustainable in my life and help others be sustainable, too. We only have one planet to live on, and it’s not fair to treat it like we don’t.”
To help inspire others to get involved with environmental preservation and living sustainably, Feinstein co-founded the environmental club Mission Environment last October. In April, the members of Mission Environment created an online petition proposing to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus.
“Plastic water bottles contribute to litter, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel use,” Feinstein said. “Because Chapman has multiple water bottle filling stations, banning water bottles is an easy fix to help our environment,”
The petition raised mixed reviews from students. Some saw it as a step in the right direction. Others strongly opposed the ban, saying that it took away a student’s right to choose.
“I thought it was a little bit ridiculous,” said sophomore creative writing major Claire Wright. “I personally use a reusable water bottle, but what if I forget it one day, or what about if parents come on campus without reusable bottles? I don’t think you should ban students from trying to buy water bottles, I think you should give them a choice.”
After receiving over 370 signatures, the members of Mission Environment decided to end the petition.
“Functionally, right now we don’t have enough water bottle refill stations to support the hydration needs,” said Feinstein. “We would need to add a filter on every floor of most of campus.”
However, regardless of students' opinions towards the ban, it got people talking. And that, according to Feinstein, is itself in the right direction.
“I think the petition achieved some understanding about how plastic water bottles affect the environment,” said Feinstein. “Maybe some people thought about not buying them anymore.”
Members of Mission Environment are working towards getting more refill stations on campus and hope to educate the public about the environmental cost of using plastic water bottles. In the mean time, Mission Environment, along with Student Government Association and other student organizations, will continue to promote sustainable living throughout Chapman and encourage others to do the same.
“I’m not sure if the petition fixed the problem, but it started a conversation,” said Wright. “It got people talking about the issue of water bottle use on campus.”