Tarble Bottled Water and Other Earthlust Campaigns

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Students who have grabbed bagged lunches in Tarble have noticed the missing bottled water and paper bag packaging, this semester. Earthlust considers its No Bottled Water a successful mark of their activist presence on campus, along with other environmental initiatives.

This No Bottled Water campaign began when Earthlust members approached Linda McDougall, director of Dining Services, about eliminating bottled waters in bagged lunches. Natali Cortes ’13, a member of Earthlust, explains that this idea originated from a workshop they attended at the Power Shift Conference at Penn State University last semester about eliminating water bottles.

An Earthlust poster urging students to “take back the tap.” Photo by Tom Eisenberg.

The impact of cutting plastic water bottles is significant, even at a small college like Swarthmore. Cortes reasoned, “Swarthmore uses roughly 11,000 water bottles a year in bagged lunches, and [the initiative] seemed like a clear way to cut back….I just don’t think we have the right to generate so much avoidable waste when we’re not even the ones feeling the consequences of it.”

Cortes said, “I think students are generally understanding of the change, and have reacted favorably. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from students, and had some really good discussions with people who have approached me with their concerns.”

But one student, Rakan Nimr ’12 said, “Basically, it’s almost as if Earthlust is forcing everyone who may not be as environmentally-conscious as they are to conform to a set of standards that seem ridiculous…College students are already broke, so being forced to buy a reusable bottle or canteen is unfair. Yes, they may be inexpensive, but every little thing adds up. Wasn’t it enough that everyone recycled the plastic bottles after finishing them?”

Other students are beginning to accept these changes, believes Jamie Layton, a Dining Services staff member who swipes students’ cards. She says that several students complained when the change was initially enacted. But now, they seem to have adjusted. The money saved from purchasing bottled water and other recent green changes have gone back in to the food budget for purchasing relevant products, such as igloo coolers.

Other Earthlust and Dining Services partnerships have focused on reusing coffee mugs. Last year, the Mug Board was placed by the Sharples coffee station to encourage reusing coffee mugs. The coffee bars now also give a ten-cent discount for students using their own mug.

Earthlust is preparing for another outreach program, entitled GreenMarch!. This month-long program focuses on “cross-collaboration and dialogue between diverse student groups and academic disciples to highlight the intersectionality and interdisciplinary nature of environmental justice and sustainability,” as laid out in its mission statement.

Working closely with SusCom, Earthlust wants to address other sustainability projects around campus. According to Robertson, potential ideas include “using cloth instead of paper towels to wipe down machines in the weight room, investigating and putting an end to the mass-delivery of Verizon phone books that no one uses, having the college purchase more environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies, discouraging excessive elevator use, purchasing a curtain for the loading dock, and more.”

Earthlust also anticipates working with SusCom, Good Food, Environmental Justice, and the Green Advisors “to improve labeling and accessibility of recycling and composting receptacles and awareness of what happens to things that we throw into each bin,” Robertson said.

Cortes says, “Earthlust’s big challenge for the new year will be keeping up the great momentum we have going, especially considering how productive the semester we just came off of was.”


  1. 0
    I <3 my nalgene lolz! says:

    Let me repeat that this was a decision made by DINING SERVICES and wholeheartedly supported by Earthlust. We, as a student group, do not have the power to make said changes. As Yaeir explicitly stated, if you have an issue with the administrations environmental ethics, then involve yourself with changing the administration!

    "More and more, green seems like the new red."
    …wait, really? That's unoriginal, untrue, and just not that sharp.

  2. 0
    Andrew '12 says:

    To #46, who presented a "ridiculous analogy",

    You're absolutely right, that analogy IS ridiculous. Removing bottled water in bagged lunches at Tarble is not equivalent to ceasing to offer all meat dishes in the dining hall. Bottled water has not been completely eliminated from this campus, obviously; you can still buy a bottle at any snack bar with meal points or any vending machine with some cash. The only change is that the water we used to get with our bagged lunch as part of the meal plan no longer comes pre-packaged. It's cheaper and more environmentally friendly to have it in a cooler where we can fill up one reusable bottle a thousand times. And as long as you find yourself a reusable bottle somewhere, it's not any less convenient. But if you're still so stuck on having bottled water, again, you can buy one with points at the snack bar just a few steps away from where the water coolers are.

    The fact that hundreds of students took the offered bottled water when it was available does not in any way show that we'd like them back now that they're gone. It just shows that we comply with the status quo. Now that it's changed, albeit only slightly, I think we're more than capable of adapting to the new system, agree with it or no. Looking back to this article, "[Layton] says that several students complained when the change was initially enacted. But now, they seem to have adjusted."

    So, where do we draw the line? Between a small, reasonable change and a ridiculous hypothetical situtation.

    P.S. "The money saved from purchasing bottled water and other recent green changes have gone back in to the food budget for purchasing relevant products, such as igloo coolers." Just wanted to remind people of that.

  3. 0
    Yaeir Heber says:

    ok, i really appreciate the dialogue going on here, but lets take a step back just for one moment.

    and i ask this honestly. lets focus not on the principles and the theories and the consumer rights, but just on what has actually happened, what has changed.

    Is it really that big of a assault on you as an individual to not offer you a water bottle.. water is still available in multiple forms with in 100 feet of the same location. Is anyone really suffering?

    I think the point here is that the administration made an ethical decision. They (mostly McDougal) decided that the negative impacts of water bottles outweighed their benefits–especially considering the redundancy of their service. it is that simple. The admin. also decided to change the schools smoking policy recently, in that technically now you can smoke within 20 feet of a door or building air intake.

    These are decisions, moral ethical or whatever you want to call them that are administration, throught the various auithorities and decision making proceses it has can make. Yes they effect us all, but i i think it is important to decide when it is worth trusting them, and their decisions and when not to. That is, there is definitly a time to stand forth… if i am truly violated by a body that is meant to serve me, that deserves protest–and hopefully effective protest, not as a wise man one said masterbatory acitvism.

    But, really, is this really an issue of outrage and violation.. theories and abstracts aside? if sharples tries to ban meat, ill storm the kitchen with you dressed up as barn yard animals.

    But the point is this is an ethical decision that the admin. has made… and quite honestly i do believe that inconvience aside (which is hoenstly soooo minimal!) it is an ethical issue that most would agree with. Other people, beings and our world should not have to suffer in order to bring water literally 20 feet closer. We are not that lazy, in fact we are quite capable.

    I urge you to consider the actuality of what was changed and not gt carried away with theories of violated rights and breached contracts… it not black and white. THigns have differnt elvels of severity and the admin knows what they are doing (soemtimes)… no one is forbidding meat, or forcing tofu, or slashing your tires. were just insitutionally being a bit more consciouss and responsible.

  4. 0
    jacob socolar says:

    To everyone who's not Soren or me, we should probably make it explicit that we're friends and we're enjoying this.

    at # 47
    First, let me congratulate your use of the ellipsis in the fourth sentence, to great comedic effect.
    1) It simply is not true to state that Chester residents should have known what was going on etc. How about the long-term residents who had incinerators built in their back yards under the aegis of an extremely corrupt and contorted political regime? How about the residents who just weren't aware of the risks, or even of the incinerators themselves? Hell, i don't even know or understand the risks associated with living near a waste incineration facility, nor do I know much about where they are located. And I am much better positioned to know those things than many people in Chester.
    Moreover, we *know* that the free market system hasn't been perfected, because of problems of externality pricing. If you want to engage on that point… well actually i started that sentence without knowing how to finish it, but the reason is because I trust that you don't want to engage on that point.
    2) Why isn't our food market free? My grocery store back home distorts my food consumption behavior, but they are operating in the free market. Somebody is offering you an imperfect product, of housing and dining in a lump bundle. You can pick whether or not you want to buy it. I agree that the market isn't competitive, I am not aware that such a situation prevents it from being free, though I admit my ignorance on the matter. I thought that very strong free market proponents typically come out against anti-trust legislation, for example.
    In theory, some dude could start a business to try to offer us better food and housing. That no such business has arisen on a large scale should be taken as evidence that the product we are getting isn't as bad as we like to make out.
    3) I agree that it would be nice to unbundle that stuff.
    4) Surely you would be more expected to be knowledgeable about flexibility in your food service contract than say, a Chester resident about incinerator dangers. Did you or anyone else check whether bottled water was included in the services when you bought your mealplan? Probably not, and if you did you probably found that it wasn't guaranteed.
    And if by some chance you did and found that it was guaranteed, then I cede this entire conversation to you with the added assertion that I still think you're silly.

  5. 0
    Question says:


    Are you saying that you'll suggest to Earthlust that Dining Services should get of meat too?

    Personally, as a meat eater, I don't think that's a good idea.

  6. 0
    Soren Larson says:


    My (our) complaint(s) pertain(s) to the status quo because we purchased a meal plan believing that bottled water would be included in our bagged lunches. While I'm sure dining services has the contractural flexibility to change its services without notice, it seems unfair for dining services to give us less value without reducing price. Price should be proportional to value. Since Dining Services never offered red wine to students as a part of the meal plan, it didn't breach its (flexible) contract when it… didn't offer red wine in its bagged lunches this semester. The dearth of choice in dining options on campus is a whole other matter.

    At #44:

    1) When Chester-PA-homeowners bought their homes, they should have known about their homes' proximity to the garbage incinerator, especially as its proximity probably made their homes' prices low despite being close to city center Philadelphia. First, recall that no one forced Chester PA homeowners to buy homes in Chester. Surely there are homes in Philadelphian exurbs that are of similar prices. HOWEVER, such homes are also *far* away from city center, which means that the costs of transportation are higher, thus making the real wage lower. Accordingly, although one can cursorily surmise that being near a garbage incinerator is undesirable, a closer inspection shows that such proximity depresses home prices which makes proximity to city center more accessible to low-income workers. See O'Sullivan, "Urban Economics" for confirmation.

    Since the hazards of living near the incinerator are clearly known, the prices of housing in the incinerator's proximity take into account the bad air quality.

    2) Dining services is inefficient and distorts student food consumption behavior. This is not a free market *at all.*

    3) But if I want to live on campus, I need to buy a meal plan. This is why Swarthmore should unbundle room & board and dining. Bundling services makes producers better off at the expense of consumers, who then face less choice. Furthermore, it's possible that the utility I get from having access to on-campus dining is greater than the utility lost from too-little choice, which would make buying a dining plan desirable even when it's not optimal in a competitive market condition, which it's not.

    4) It doesn't matter that Dining Services didn't offer bagged lunches a few years ago because the contracts (that I again concede Dining Services probably has the flexibility to change at whim) we signed this year included a bag lunch that promised water bottles and paper bags. Yes, the status quo was generated by the contract we signed and was subsequently (but allowedly) violated.

  7. 0
    Let's Get Rid Of Meat TOO! says:

    Argos and Bottle-Water-Get-Rid-Of-Ers:

    Here's an ANALOGY!

    Let's say Dining Services got rid of all meat products. After all, according to some members of Earthlust, eating meat is the greatest danger to our environment.

    How do you think students should act?

    WITH OUTRAGE! There needs to be a serious examination of cost and benefits when the wants of a few students clash with the needs of others! It doesn't seem like the wants and needs of the general student population was asked for by Dining Services.

    True, it's a RIDCULOUS analogy but the question is WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE?

    I agree that many people are against bottled water but the fact that hundreds of people took it when it was offered clearly shows that there are many (if not more) people who want Dining Services to bring back the bottled water.

    Furthermore, I've noticed that people who forget to bring water bottles will just go to Essie Mae's to get plastic cups. So the decrease in bottled water plastic is having less of an effect than this ruling was supposed to institute, it's just causing a bigger hassle.

    And Jacob, nobody is *forcing* students to buy the meal plan but Dining Services has what's called a *monopoly*. Do the math, there's no other reason students should be spending $10 on what the administration here calls food.

  8. 0
    Dan Pak '12 says:

    What is interesting though is that Dining Services offers napkins and paper bags but doesn't pack the lunches into the bags like they used to…

    I mean, I understand taking away the bottled water, but I guess they can't have the bags prepacked?? It seems like they're using the no bottled water thing as a way to save labor, time and thus money!

  9. 0
    Jacob Socolar says:

    Five points.
    1) The free market barely extends to Chester Pa, where all of Swat's garbage is burned above the homes of poor black people. No one, not even you, would claim that the approximation of the free market that we are dealing with now is equipped to face the environmental and social crises associated with its current functioning. The market just has to find a better way to deal with externalities in order to succeed. In the meantime–wait, there is no meantime, we are already running out of time, and some sick folks down in Chester ran out of time a while ago.
    2) It is weird to accuse Dining Services of trying to profit from skiving off waterbottle costs. If they're trying to turn a profit, then that's a normal market decision they can make, and I'd doubt they're gonna lose customers over it. I don't even think they are trying to turn a profit, in which case it's bizarre to accuse them of trying to save money in a time of fiscal crisis. Anything in their budget that they don't spend is a savings for all of us. If they do spend their entire budget, then I for one trust that they have better things to spend their budget on then waterbottles!
    3) No one is *forcing* you to buy the mealplan!
    4) How quick we are to forget that Dining Services didn't even offer bagged lunches a couple of years ago! Your baseline for what is appropriate is always last week! To sneak my buzzword in one last time, that is nothing more than the status quo.

  10. 0
    Jacob Socolar says:

    Soren, why does it make more sense for you to complain about the perversion of market capitalism when Dining Services decides not to provide bottled water than, say, to parrot the same complaint over their failure to provide red wine? They're restricting my beverage options! Not only that, but they are interfering with my substance habits!
    Red wine is not integral to the services that Dining Services appropriately provides. But neither is water in a bottle. And neither, apparently, is apple juice, or coca cola, or kung pao chicken, or whatever else they don't serve with a bagged lunch.

    I can think of a million things that this college could be doing that it doesn't do (haven't checked that experimentally, but I feel like I could anyway). Some of them are not done for environmental reasons. Are you concerned that the college, for all of those reasons, is restricting your freedom as a consumer?

    You seem to be a slave to the status quo.

  11. 0
    Argos says:

    No one forces you to get a bagged lunch. You can buy bottled water, or drink it from a fountain, or bring a goddamn bottle. Why is this such a big deal?

    No one is infringing on your choice as the elimination of bottled water from bagged lunches is not equated with the death of the free market and of course, because getting a bagged lunch in the first place is in fact a choice.

  12. 0
    Will says:

    @Typically Swarthmore: I'd hardly call our veggie food "high end." That said, show me some convincing numbers and I'll consider it.

  13. 0
    Typically Swarthmore says:

    I would be interested to see what the difference in environmental impact for flying/shipping in high-end vegetarian products vs. locally produced meat is. Their prices should be comparable.

    I think what all this comes down to is that some Swatties will feel they have done their duty again (w/o a big impact) whereas Dining Services gets to save money that will not be put into raising food quality or lowering prices. Congratulations!

  14. 0
    The Destroyer says:

    '"To "The Destroyer," if Dining Services makes decisions that costs them less money, it then costs you less money as well. Who do you think pays for the food at this school"'

    As Soren eloquently put, it would be great if Dining services found some way to use this money in a way that makes the quality of their services better. In the case of bagged lunches, the value of the lunch has decreased, the only difference is that you have one less item. Clearly, the money saved by not having bottled water is not being put into improving the quality of bagged lunches.

    My point is that it is difficult for me to completely trust Dining Service's intentions, when it NEVER does something environmentally friendly that INCREASES how much it spends. For example, organic vegetables are clearly better for the environment, are generally agreed to be more delicious, but would cost Dining Services more money. Is Dining Services pushing to get more organic vegetables in the salad bar to be more environmentally friendly?

  15. 0
    Tom G. says:

    Water Bottles are bad for the environment. True. But according to some members of Earthlust, EATING MEAT is also bad for the environment, some would say it's even worse!

    So the question is, when is too much inconvenience too much inconvenience?

    In the case of meat, Sharples offers meat to those who want it and other options for vegetarians. In the case of bottled water, Earthlust and Dining Services says that students should not be given choice in our water consuming habits.

    Other schools offer their students bottled water and Swarthmore does the same in admission events such as RTT and Discover Swarthmore. Though small, by offering prospective students bottled water, we give them a false impression of what to expect at Swarthmore. Let's stop offering bottled water at these events, as well as talks from visiting professors and scholars. If Swarthmore students can adapt to going without bottled water as part of their bag lunches, our guests can go a single day or weekend without bottled water as well.

  16. 0
    Soren Larson says:


    1. I need to learn more about how this actually came about, although ultimately it doesn't really matter.

    2. Sure, there is symbolism –– don't consume plastic bottles because they're bad for the environment… although if we recycle them, I'm not exactly sure how, other than the greenhouse gases that are produced in their consumption and recycling. In addition to symbolism, it *also* can annoy people that Earthlust/administration gets to decide how we should, vaguely put, save the environment.

    3. In terms of the greater policy implications, whenever the US attempts to change citizens behavior (especially by tax policy changes) there are always (I say that without caveats) unintended consequences. Furthermore, market efficiency is lost (e.g. gov't decides to fund wind farms), which is bad when, indeed, an economy is characterized by scarce resources.

    4. Your fourth point actually frightens me. You criticize this 'quibbling' by saying it's hindering attempts 'to protect our futures and livelihoods.' But really, this 'quibbling' is students attempting to understand the motivations for and consequences of this recent policy change. Are you suggesting we *not* talk about this? Should we make all changes without 'quibbling' because this 'quibbling' do not directly 'protect our futures?' When resources are scarce, some solutions are better than others, and the pursuance of inferior solutions inefficiently use scarce funds and make implementing better future policies harder, this quibbling is essential for the "protection and livelihoods."

  17. 0
    Kaz says:

    Soren –

    I think you should read more carefully.

    1. Earthlust was not behind the change to no water bottles. It was a decision by Dining Services that Earthlust supported. Do not confuse support with totalitarianism.

    2. I think that you tried to disprove my point by claiming that even though the changes are marginal that they are still changes. You do not address my assertion that the removal of plastic water bottles is a symbolic action that is meant to raise mindfulness of our environment and on top of that, the magnitude of inconvenience is relatively small (magnitude IS a relevant factor). Your argument seems to be built on the assumption that any limitation on one's ability to exercise their preference for bottled water (or any other good) is by nature wrong. Look at the social system that we live in, we (at least theoretically) embrace limitations on personal freedom for "the greater good"(i.e. do not rob people… even if you want to). You also assume that the price at which the bottles were being sold reflects the true cost of the product.

    3. If you do think that there is no cause or reason that is worth stripping people of their opportunity to buy what they want, then I respectfully disagree with your opinion and would be interested (via e-mail) in why you think that such a free-market dogma is optimal.

    4. While I have problems with the environmental movement, what scares me the most is that there are many people that would rather quibble with those trying to protect our futures and livelihoods than to actually try to help.

  18. 0
    I <3 my nalgene lolz! says:

    Let me repeat that this was a decision made by DINING SERVICES and wholeheartedly supported by Earthlust. We, as a student group, do not have the power to make said changes. As Yaeir explicitly stated, if you have an issue with the administrations environmental ethics, then involve yourself with changing the administration!

    "More and more, green seems like the new red."
    …wait, really? That's unoriginal, untrue, and just not that sharp.

  19. 0
    J says:

    My problem with the water fountains here is that so many are so old that the water that comes out tastes like it has a higher rust content than H2O content. No thanks.

  20. 0
    Argos says:

    I don't see how Earthlust is dictating anyone's choices, or why you guys are so incapable of hydrating yourselves from say, a goddamn water fountain.

  21. 0
    Soren Larson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Although you may be right that the effect both on students and on the environment is marginal, ultimately there's no way for you to actually know what kind of effect not having access to bottled water has on individual students. Students value goods and services differently, and your ostensibly reasonable conclusion doesn't allow for differences among students in their preferences for bottled water. Your dismissal of this change as marginal is not rigorous.

    More importantly, however, is whether Earthlust or Dining services is compensating us for this new inconvenience. Now that Dining Services doesn't pay for bottled water, it should compensate students whose meal plan costs haven't changed by improving the quality or quantity of food in its bag lunches.

    Lil' Glaucon-

    You wrote, "nobody likes to see the labor that's been alienated in that nice luxury sweater, or to imagine the swelling landfill behind all of those super-convenient sip-and-toss bottles."

    Your sappy sentence might be true, but it's immaterial. Keep in mind that no one is *forcing* makers of luxury sweaters to knit. Garment workers produce luxury sweaters because the other labor opportunities available to them are no more profitable. Tell us something specific; don't bore us with wishy-washy generalizations.

    Recall that garbage companies acquire land in accordance with state/local laws about land use and pay landowners the market value of land prior to dumping waste in it. If Swarthmore decided to stop handing out bottled water because its garbage disposal costs were high, then this change would be more understandable. In that case, if Swarthmore didn't stop handing out bottles costly to dispose, then Swarthmore would have to alter its services in some way to reduce costs, or increase tuition. But since this is not the case, and Earthlust has imposed its ruling on the student body without any input from the rest of the student body, it's understandable why some students are annoyed.

    Sure, it might be a marginal change, but Earthlust has no place dictating to the student body what it believes, for good reason or not, what is best for the student body.

    More and more, green seems like the new red.

  22. 0
    Kaz says:

    I think Andrew is the one who is actually presenting the real issue here:

    1. The relative gains for the environment are marginal.
    2. The relative inconvenience to an able-minded student is marginal.
    3. This is more about shifting the status quo paradigm to one that is more mindful of our environmental impacts.

    I've been at Swat for four years now and I am well aware that we are (and consider ourselves to be) a well-informed and socially active campus. What Swatties don't always do is put their money where their mouth is. Kudos to Dining Services for trying to do their part. I find it hard to believe that humans will learn how to take care of the planet without first considering it a cause worth mild inconvenience.

  23. 0
    lil' glaucon says:

    andrew '12, that's a fantastic, cheap, and easy suggestion. i can't imagine that anys swattie would have trouble finding a durable, sustainable container for whatever, if she was interesting in going that extra (few) (feet).

    still, i think that earthlust, or any other collection of student citizens, could arrange sort sort of parlour party, event, or table, to round up and distribute glass canisters like the tea containers, for students who really felt financially threatened by dining service's new initiative.

    in general, as earthlust's water campaign says, i think the move towards LASTING goods (silverware, mugs, durable bottles) is an essential one. and quite mimetic of the ethics needed to start to solve this crisis. there's no 'away,' at all — it's a bit uncomfortable, perhaps, for the campus to begin to take steps to recognize this reality. nobody likes to see the labor that's been alienated in that nice luxury sweater, or to imagine the swelling landfill behind all of those super-convenient sip-and-toss bottles. that sort of expansion of consciousness is frustrating, maybe terrifying — because there's a whole lot out there we haven't been thinking of, to fuel our conveniences.

    as long as environmentally proactive students on campus remain receptive and open to the growing pains that this process may stir up for everybody, we should be able to begin to make the transition. after all, this is only a very first step in a long, long process of changing environmental, and ethical, consciousness.

  24. 0
    A says:

    I cannot believe that people are complaining about this. It will not kill you to go without water for half a day. There are drinking fountains around campus just in case you thought it would kill you. And if you can possibly remember to bring a reusable water bottle (it shouldn't be too hard to remember if you can remember other things each day) then you can fill that up at any faucet. It's not like you don't have time to do that. It takes about one minute. And if you just rinse it out after you use it, it's not like mildew pops up the moment you put water in there.
    The sense of entitlement that people have to consume unnecessary resources mindlessly is absolutely ridiculous.

  25. 0
    A says:

    I cannot believe that people are complaining about this. It will not kill you to go without water for half a day. There are drinking fountains around campus just in case you thought it would kill you. And if you can possibly remember to bring a reusable water bottle (it shouldn't be too hard to remember if you can remember other things each day) then you can fill that up at any faucet. It's not like you don't have time to do that. It takes about one minute. And if you just rinse it out after you use it, it's not like mildew pops up the moment you put water in there.
    The sense of entitlement that people have to consume unnecessary resources mindlessly is absolutely ridiculous.

  26. 0
    Please think beyond the bubble says:

    To "The Destroyer," if Dining Services makes decisions that costs them less money, it then costs you less money as well. Who do you think pays for the food at this school? I say hurray to finding ways to be more environmentally friendly AND cost-effective.

    As for the inconvenience, if people are complaining about the inconvenience of bringing their own cup, water bottle, mug, etc. to get bag lunch, then they may have a hard time once they leave college and have to go grocery shopping, actually go further than 1/4 mile to get places they need to be, and live like real people.

    Finally, I would like to emphasize that beyond the environmental impact of bottled water, as someone mentioned, ALL of our waste goes to an incinerator in Chester. So while we complain about carrying around a water bottle, Chester bares the brunt of our consumption from massive amounts of pollution coming from the incinerator. Chester has the highest infant mortality rate in the state of Pennsylvania (double the rate for Delaware County), has a mortality rate and lung cancer mortality rate about 60% higher than the rates for Delaware County, and 60% of children's blood lead levels are too high (for more info, go to http://energyjustice.ning.com/). I think that goes beyond inconvenience for Chester residents.

  27. 0
    j says:

    lets say you get ripped off, and buy a water bottle for 10 bucks (i like the suggestion of using a tea bottle from the coffee bar, then you get it free!)
    Even under such financially trying circumstances as those, you can make your money back in a year with the 10 cent discounts you would receive at coffee bars.
    OOOOoooo, dining services is doing something that saves you money (and costs them money). maybe somebody can grumble about that in the context of a budget shortfall or something.

  28. 0
    j says:

    Whenever the status quo changes, somebody will grumble about it. then a bunch of other people will grumble about them. and then i'll grumble about all of them, and i'm sure somebody soon will grumble about me.
    i don't much care, because mostly i'm just happy that some appropriately concerned people managed to change the status quo in a positive way.
    There are bigger things to complain about on this campus than not having a water bottle with your lunch. everyone would do well to look up from your grumbling, find one of them, get it changed. don't mind the inevitable grumbling that you provoke once you do that! some people apparently think that we live in the best of all possible worlds. i can't imagine why, but they seem to actually think this.

  29. 0
    Yaeir Heber says:

    water fountains…

    its totally fine to disagree, but it just so happens, that the folks who are in charge of these issue seem to agree with the environmental concerns that we express… if that is a concern to you, that the administration does not share you personal environmental ethic, than become more engaged in the hiring process, or if worse comes to worse… water fountain..

    we are resilient, we'll all deal im sure 🙂

  30. 0
    natali cortes says:

    The suggestion for putting the water coolers where you can get to them in line will definitely be be passed on to the appropriate people. thanks for the feedback!

  31. 0
    Samantha says:

    Retraction: they don't turn the heat off… just make it way low (except in the Mertz stairwell, where people dry their clothes on the banister).

  32. 0
    Andrew '12 says:

    I'd also like to offer some kudos to Earthlust and Dining Services for starting this initiative. Although this semester I don't have to get bagged lunches at Tarble, last semester was bagged lunch every T/Th for me. I remember the lines that stretched all the way out the door and do agree with DJ that if we have water coolers now instead of water bottles, it'd be more efficient to place them in the line where people can refill while they wait.

    Also, a pretty handy/durable/cheap alternative to a steel bottle or Nalgene is to buy the tea that comes in glass bottles at the coffee bars. You can reuse those plenty of times (I've had mine for about two months), and if yours breaks just buy another with your meal points.

    Lastly, as others above have said, it really isn't that big a deal either way, both the (very very minor) inconvenience of those who don't have reusable bottles, and the impact of 11,000 fewer water bottles a year at Swat when 200,000,000,000 are consumed globally a year (that's essentially a 0% decrease). Maybe, then, do it (or tolerate it) because it's a good habit to keep the environment in mind, whether or not it's important to you, in the same way men should leave the toilet seat down even if they don't care about the extra second it takes women to put it down themselves. I'm not sure why that was the first example of common courtesy that popped into my head, but there you go.

  33. 0
    my2c says:

    First of all, I just want to say that I support the change. I want the people who put this campaign together to hear that, since it's easy to get a non-representative sample of general student opinion based on this forum because grumblers comment and people who don't care or think the change is fine don't comment.

    In four years, when an entirely new student body goes here, no one will feel entitled to bottled water and it will just be a given that when you grab bagged lunch, you take your water bottle with you.

    Another thought I had was I hope that someone who understands environmental science better than I do can do a comparison of the resources used to manufacture a durable steel container versus the resources used to manufacture x number of water bottles (x = however many is the average times a Swattie uses their reusable container before it breaks/they lose it/etc.). I can believe that the environmental cost of Sharples using bottled water is higher than the environmental cost of everyone buying durable ones (plus all the environmental costs associated with the new system such as bringing in water coolers, advertising, etc.), but I'd like to hear that argued by someone knowledgeable about the topic. "OPTION B," you sounded very knowledgeable about the environmental costs associated with the old system. Do you (or someone else who knows) care to comment on what the costs of the new system are, and why they are less than the old? And how would this calculus change if Swarthmore decided to buy a new steel container for every incoming student?

  34. 0
    WC says:

    Is this debate really worth the time put into it? Both the relative effect this initiative has on the environment, and the possible inconvenience caused to the student body, is laughably marginal. If there's bottled water at the swipe desk, I'll grab one. If there's not, I'll just get a drink at a water fountain, or if I'm thirsty enough, wash out my bottle.

  35. 0
    DJ says:

    A suggestion: replacing the ease of grabbing a full water bottle with a single-tap cooler is not a zero-sum game. I suspect that many fewer people are actually using the cooler given the speed at which people get food relative to the time it takes to fill up an entire bottle. Perhaps there can be several coolers, along where the line forms, so people can actually use the time they waste in line productively?

  36. 0
    Samantha says:

    Option A-

    For the record, I am not a member of Earthlust. (While you didn't say so explicitly, I feel like people will assume I am.) Anyway, I feel that tossing a plate into a bin that is right next to the trash can where they put it anyway has everything to do with convenience and common courtesy and nothing to do with anyone's convictions, mine or theirs– unless, of course, they actively have something against recycling or something, which is a sentiment I haven't heard many people express. As for the bottle thing: I do realize that everyone has the right to their convictions, but I think it's hypocritical for people to recognize that we waste a huge amount of resources and be infuriated by something that isn't that big a deal. Between schoolwork, jobs, outside activities and the huge burden of paying for tuition, housing and textbooks (among other things), I seriously doubt this is a major issue in anyone's life. It would be a different story if they did something like limit our shower time or ban the selling of plastic bottles anywhere on campus (which they don't) and is much easier for the student body and less insulting than shutting off the heat in our dorms at night (which they do). When you realize something has widespread effects on the population at large, I feel that doing something small goes beyond the demands of a single group on campus and becomes a concern for everyone. This doesn't just go for the environment, either– while I'm bummed out that we aren't having a Large Scale Event during my last semester here, I see making budget cuts in an area that doesn't involve financial aid or classes as more important than bringing Lady Gaga or someone to campus (yeah, yeah, I know that would never happen anyway).

    (For realsies, guys, what's with the compost thing? It's something that doesn't piss me off so much as it confuses me, like leaving gum wrappers and crumpled papers inches away from a trash can on the street.)

    lil' glaucon:

    Good idea. If they're as concerned about "greening" the campus as they say they are, the school might as well invest in steel containers for students who probably can't or don't feel like shelling out cash for overpriced water bottles.

  37. 0
    Karim says:

    "everyone recycled the plastic bottles" – no. Way too many people don't recycle, as easy as they make it to do here. The garbage can in the mertz kitchen is constantly filled with soda cans and the laundry room garbage full of immense plastic detergent jugs. It's embarrassing.

  38. 0
    natali cortes says:

    Hey guys, just a couple things:
    – I just talked to someone who confirmed that Dining Services probably would have made this change on their own initiative, but since the issue had been brought up in meetings before, we decided to actively support/collaborate the effort, and take responsibility for the awareness/education component of the switch. Sorry that didn’t come out clearly in my statement.
    – No, not everyone does recycle their water bottles after they’re done with them. In fact, the majority don’t: “According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter” (http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/plan_b_updates/2006/update51). Even at Swarthmore, our recycling rate cannot be much better. Like Samantha said, take a look at the compost.
    – In response to Q, (“An alternate solution would be to discourage bottled water usage…or offer a location where students could easily refill their water bottles as they waited for a bag-lunch”), yes, that’s exactly what Earthlust did in addition to this change. Flyers and a GA (Green Advisor) digest were put up with statistics about bottled water and tap water; hopefully those were informative. As to the location for refilling water bottles…it’s right across from where you swipe.
    – Option A, I don’t believe this is a case of minority forcing a majority to switch over to their way of thinking. This was a decision by Dining Services, supported by a sizeable student group, concerning bagged lunches, which serve approximately 140 to just over 200 students a day (that’s 9-14 percent of the student body, assuming a student body of 1500). Don’t think that’s quite as extreme as it was made out to be, and again, sorry if your concern was due to me not being clearer before.
    – lil' glaucon – that is a great suggestion, and one I personally would like to look into. As a reminder, Earthlust meetings are Mondays at 9:30 in Kohlberg 116 for anyone looking to get involved!

    Thanks for letting me share, I’m glad people are actively thinking about this.

  39. 0
    matrixrc says:

    lil'glaucon, I like that idea. My "I was mugged" mug is in my room somewhere, but I've only used it maybe 3 times my entire time here. The mugs are cute, but nobody's going to carry them around campus. Steel water bottles would be much more useful.

  40. 0
    lil' glaucon says:

    I really think we need to work out a plan with the Dean's Office, Alumni Office, Admissions Office, and Orientation Committee, to get Swat-printed steel water bottles for the incoming freshman. It would be a great way to brand Swarthmore as a green-friendly place, and would provide all incoming students with sturdy, reusable bottles from the outset.

  41. 0
    Samantha says:

    If awareness-raising is an equally effective alternative, our student body already cares about the environmental impacts of our choices without being told to and we're all recycling, someone explain the amount of compostable plates and cups thrown into the garbage at Tarble right below the signs explaining what can go in the compost bins. (Seriously, guys, what is up with that? The bins are RIGHT THERE!) In the scheme of things, this is a minor sacrifice to make… very minor.

  42. 0
    chk ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Removing the water bottles is a good initiative. Even if it causes a little bit of inconvenience, it's not too hard to wake up 5 minutes earlier and fill up a water bottle. And the money saved goes back into the Dining Services budget anyway so students are still benefiting from the funds.

    However, although Swarthmore College is the easiest location for their reforms, there are many other companies and organizations that contribute to pollution much more than we do. Maybe Earthlust could focus some of these efforts outside of Swarthmore. Swarthmore students are already pretty aware of the environmental impact of their actions…maybe we're not the ones that Earthlust should be targeting.

  43. 0
    Option A says:

    Option B is the perfect example of the ridiculousness some members of the community have adopted. The right option would have been: Let the students choose and, if you wish, raise awareness to influence students' choices. I never like it when a minority group imposes their wishes on the majority – and this seems to have happened here.

  44. 0
    Q says:

    It's great how people quote numbers completely out of context as a way of making an argument. 11,000 bottles a year comes out to being fewer than eight bottles per student per year. Boo-hoo. What next, no more than 6" of toilet paper per wipe? ZOMG 1,000 rolls of TP per year!

    I support initiatives to make the school more efficient, but we pay tuition for the express purpose of learning. Dining services is here to facilitate that goal. So if a student needs bottled water to reach class on time and hydrated, what gives Earthlust the right to take that away from them?

    An alternate solution would be to discourage bottled water usage or discuss the possibility of changing the schedule so as to lengthen the T/TR lunch period by 10 minutes, or offer a location where students could easily refill their water bottles as they waited for a bag-lunch.

  45. 0
    OPTION B says:

    IN RESPONSE to this "[un]fair change" based on a "set of standards that seem ridiculous":

    Revert to buying and disposing of WaWa bottled water, to the tune of 11,000 bottles per year. After bottles are inection-molded with melted plastic, water is bottled from a tap at a spring in Vermont. Color labels are printed and glued to each bottle, which are packed into crates and loaded onto big trucks which drive the bottles 350 miles to a WaWa depot in PA, which subsequently delivers the bottles to Swarthmore Dining Services. The bottles are then delivered to Tarble each day, available for consumption with a swipe of a card. After the water is consumed, the consumer either refills the bottle from a tap or throws it away.

    The bottle is either recycled and delivered to a facility that melts down the plastic to a lower quality, or thrown in the trash. If thrown in the trash, the bottle is delivered from trash cans around campus to a centralized dumpster, which is emptied weekly and driven along with all of our trash to a waste incinerator in Chester.

    Adapt to being provided with clean, cold water and a prepared lunch. Carry a vessel for water along with notebooks and pencils, perhaps? If you don't have the funds to purchase a swanky nalgene or sigg, use an old mason jar or regular cup.

    PS Quit your whining, don't embarrass yourself. No one is being victimized by mildew or recycling or the extra 30 seconds it takes to fill up a cup or reusable bottle. This is a small change that Dining Services chose to make based on compelling evidence and the voices of more than a few concerned students and faculty members.

    "What's one little bottle in the grand scheme of things, you know?"

  46. 0
    The Detroyer says:

    I really wish they would have just let you choose between a waterbottle and using a mug. The whole point of bagged lunch is to save busy people time. have you noticed how all things Dining Service does to be "environmentally friendly" costs them less money?

  47. 0
    J says:

    I am all about saving the environment (I recycle EVERYTHING, and even my tile cleaner is all-natural, for crissake), but when I'm short on time, the last thing I want to worry about is whether I can get the mildew out of my reusable bottle. I really don't think this is a fair change.

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