OPINION: Either Ban All Bottle Drinks or None

Alan Wang ’19, Staff Writer

School-wide disposable water bottle bans aren’t as effective as they seem to be.

Peddie students have not-so-recently returned from a relaxing spring break – and with that came a school-wide disposable water bottle ban.

Before those who depend on the lovely disposable water bottles for their convenience, crisp taste, and cheap cost complain, it’s important to note that this ban isn’t really a “ban,” as it isn’t really enforced. It’s more of a suggestion, but the students have been informed of it, and twenty or so new Elkay water bottle filling stations have been installed to help aid the transition. These new stations are more convenient and faster than holding a bottle up to a water fountain at an awkward angle. They’ve been dispersed throughout campus, appearing in dorms and academic buildings. A handy little bottle counter appears in the top right corner of each station, counting how many disposable bottles have been saved.

These new stations are a step in the right direction. Plastic water bottle pollution is a huge problem in the world, and especially in the U.S. Encouraging environmental awareness for students is incredibly important, and using reusable water bottles is an easy way to do so. However positive it may be though, it remains a small step. Many boarders probably still keep a 24-pack of Poland Spring somewhere in their rooms, and I’m sure that plenty of day students might also bring a bottle to school every day too. However, the “ban” on water bottles at Peddie kind of loses its meaning once people start to realize that there’s no way to enforce it, and that it simply relies on the good will of people, a risky bet.

The one way that the administration has been able to enforce it is through stopping the sales of plastic water bottles in the school store, the Grille and the library. But this is one of the major inconveniences and also one of the less effective measures taken. For example, how often do people go to the Grille to buy a bottle of plain water? Wouldn’t they be more likely to buy other drinks like Bai 5 or soda? After all, those drinks aren’t directly available from a water fountain down the hall. Also, the vending machines in Swig and Stud still sell plastic water bottles, probably because Fresh! Healthy Vending hasn’t heard of or doesn’t want to follow this ban. If plastic bottle waste on campus was caused by sales of drinks from school-run stores, cutting down on all drinks, not just water, would be much more effective, albeit painful.

But if you aren’t going to ban all drinks, don’t ban water as if it cuts down on the problem of pollution. Only banning water is going half-way. If you’re going to take a stand on water bottles, either go hard or go home. Ban all plastic bottled drinks, or just make people’s lives easier and sell water bottles.