Ryerson goes bottled water free - Macleans.ca

Ryerson goes bottled water free

Plastic containers condemned


On March 11, 2010, I was duped.

Yes, the collaborative efforts of the Canadian Federation of Students, the Sierra Youth Coalition, and the Polaris Institute got me.

Apparently, “Bottled Water Free Day” is nothing as it sounds. I know; I was shocked too! Not only did I not get my free bottle of water, but I found out that the very cap I untwist to seek refreshment can unearth a Pandora’s box of campus sin!

Defeated and embarrassed, I went home to mull over my misstep.

What was I missing? Clearly, Evian and Nestle were up to something dire; why else would student leaders be using my fees to campaign for something completely not student related?

Then I saw the press release: “Ryerson pledges to be first bottled water free campus in Ontario.”

OK, OK, something’s definitely going on; or else, why would my university pledge to eliminate all bottled water from campus? A band-aid move that reeks of appeasement? When everyone knows that prohibition will only create resentment? And that the way to get people to really align with your views is through reasoned argument and persuasion, not mandating its acceptance?

I stared at my half-empty Dasani. Oh, you’re trouble, aren’t you? That’s why my university has decided to stunt one of our few healthy consumer trends. Why the Ryerson Student Union has suddenly been granted the right to decide what others can purchase on campus?

Finally, after hours of reflection, I’m down to three possible conclusions:

•    Bottled water was the root cause of the 5-3 upset suffered by the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team to the United States in Vancouver this past February
•    The grooves on many water bottles somehow serve as capitalist symbols
•    Bottled water is responsible for high tuition fees

You decide…

-Photo by Cesar Vivas


Ryerson goes bottled water free

  1. Wow. You really DON’T get it do you? It is a shame.

  2. The CFS is campaigning to curb bottled water usage at Universities while we are stuck with high tuition fees and fewer available services? I wish I was actually surprised.

    Michele, I suppose I don’t get it either.

  3. I’m just glad the CFS actually did SOMETHING!

    Bottled water is certainly a moronic idea. I hope the author was being cheeky about downplaying the importance of banning water bottles in general…. But why should a student union care this much?

    I guess I don’t get it. Just seems like the CFS is attacking every problem in the world other than the ones that are actually important to students. It’s such a shame to squander such power on such trivial things. It’s like watering your flowers when the house is on fire. Sure, the flowers need to be watered, but THE DAMN HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN! DO SOMETHING!

    This is the way that the CFS keeps getting away with their incompetence. They should be focusing on tuition reduction and government investment in post-secondary education. Instead, they use sexy topics like environmentalism and war in the Middle East to seem relevant. Remember that next time you see a defederation petition being circulated.

  4. i really don’t see the point in taking away the option of bottled water. If students want to buy bottled water instead of Pepsi then they deserve the right to at least choose. Yes there is the argument that you can use a local water fountain, but quite frankly, I’m not a fan of fountain water that tastes like metal and comes from a fountain that is slowly rusting, not to mention the germs… So please if i feel uncomfortable about the alternative then give me the choice to buy bottled water.

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  6. Anon- May I make a suggestion? Just fill a reusable container up at home.

    BTW- do you liek mudkipz?

  7. This is an initiative that is been driven by students for years. At the very least, I know there’s a group of students in my university that are working to end bottled water sales on our campus. People aren’t encouraging a ban on bottled water to infringe on your rights so I think it’s worthwhile to read what are the benefits of a bottled water ban.

    Personally, I think bans work. Yes, you can still go to the supermarket and buy all the plastic you want but having it banned at the university makes people think twice before they choose bottled water. It also raises awareness of the scarcity of clean water on tap and how privileged we are to have this access. Most importantly, bottled water has been proven to at times contain more toxins due to its packaging, than tap water.

    I don’t think this is a decision that Ryerson’s president went into lightly and I think people should read more on why there’s a drive to ban bottled water before jumping to conclusions.

    Also, if you enjoy a laugh, watch this video:



  8. Alright I am going to do some shameless self promoting her, but I agree with Robyn. I wrote this article at STU last semester. I also wrote another but there is no link.


    Needless to say I got a few responses. Most of them non sequiturs and red herrings.

    There exist a free market. If people stop buying bottle water it ceases to be produced. No need for overly moralistic chest thumping of student unions.

  9. Are you for real…
    check out the documentary Flow

    -Water bottles are not as regulated as tap water and companies such as Aquafina and Dasani are actually just Coke and Pepsi companies for bottled tap water.

    -If we spent the amount of money that we spent on bottled water, we could afford to supply safe, clean drinking water for the whole world.

    -just bring a water container with you…they are more environmentally friendly and it doesn’t take that much brain power to remember it

  10. I’m shocked that I am reading so many responses against a move away from plastic-bottled water, and that so few are actually properly informed on this topic. Even the writer, if you are so ill informed on the subject why are you writing about it? Maybe it is my background in sciences, but I feel it is only fair to do research before publishing…maybe it’s just me.

    Plastics are not safe keeping for water or anything we need in our bodies. Glass is a better alternative in ever sense – they take less chemicals in manufacturing, and are safely reusable.

    Bottled water is expensive and such a waste of energy (consider how far the water in that Dasani bottle just traveled to you, when you probably live on top of an aquifer, near a river, or some sort of fresh water system!!).

    Anyway, I agree with Amara – Flow is a good documentary to watch for information. Cynics will go in with their own perspective which is fine, we should all be critical of the information we are consuming (this article is a great example of that) but take what you see from examples around the world, and make up your own mind. Don’t trust in big corporations to have your health at heart or the livelihoods of the people who live on the land they are stripping for OUR benefit.

    “Luxuries” like bottled water are completely unnecessary and should be banned to create awareness, like others have mentioned here. Imagine how much positive change a ban at your university could actually make! In order to be rich others must be poor – how rich (in the sense of enjoying bottled water) are we willing to make ourselves at the expense of others?

  11. I am someone who tries to use my reusable mug and stainless steel water bottle as much as anybody. But if I am “on the go” and I happen to not be carrying one of my water-holding devices, why should I be “banned” from buying bottled water?

    I’m not educated about how much water it takes to process a bottle of coke, or a bottle of Gatorade. But those containers are just as plastic, contain just as much liquid, are just as cold, but MUCH UNHEALTHIER than the bottled water that I would otherwise want to buy in that situation.

    A ban on bottled water, without banning all plastics, doesn’t stop any problem. It just forces people to ingest 200 more calories than the alternative you just banned. And that’s not a solution I like to encourage. Choice of beverage should be everybody’s individual choice, artificially limiting one healthy option is counterproductive.