When students and the general public attending the men’s lacrosse game against St. Joseph’s on the afternoon of March 31st , they were treated to a “Green Out” t-shirt to help raise awareness of sustainability efforts underway at UMass Amherst. Thus, the Gerber Field stands were vibrant neon instead of maroon for the Green Out Game sponsored by the Campus Sustainability Initiative. Attendees were encouraged to sign the Ban the Bottle petition that marks the first step in plastic reduction within the UMass community.
This international campaign aims to eliminate one-time-use plastic bottles and promotes reusable canteens. 100 campus and community members signed the petition, which appeals to local and national legislators to crack down on America’s bottled water addiction. This complements the goal of a water bottle free UMass Amherst campus currently being pursued by members of the Campus Sustainability Initiative, Eco Rep program and other enthusiastic individuals.
“I’m all for getting rid of water bottles at UMass”, commented junior Heather Cain. “I think this movement has real potential because of the alternatives that are all around us on campus.”
Efforts to shed light on the devastating environmental effects of improper plastic disposal have been made recently at UMass, including the installation of Hydration Stations at the Recreation Center. These machines provide those with a reusable bottle to refill with cold water and offer a realistic alternative to plastic bottles. “I like the Hydration Stations”, said junior Bryce McNally. “It’s easier to fill up a bottle from there and doesn’t make a mess.” A screening of the film “Tapped” was also put on by the Net Impact Club in February that shed light on the inevitable consequences we may face from the improper disposal of plastic bottles in the oceans and incineration in landfills.
However, not all students who attended the game are for the ban, but believe accommodations should be met if the restriction eventually passes. “I don’t think we should ban water bottles”, said junior Dan Giardina. “But if we do, I think we should have more water fountains.” Even a slight upgrade of some of the water fountains in older buildings could prove beneficial. As one Illinois middle school proved, a self-filtering fountain that keeps track of potential bottles saved is a realistic and futuristic method. The fountain designed by students had already eliminated the need for 2,600 single serve plastic water bottles during its first week of implementation. If it could be done at the grade school level, it could certainly be done at UMass.
The ban the bottle movement is officially underway at UMass, and it will be exciting to see the progress that is made in the near future. One thing is for certain; Go Green or Go Home.