Water bottles

In a growing trend sweeping across college campuses, more than 20 universities have implemented bans on plastic water bottles, and in some cases, banned all beverages sold in plastic bottles.

The move comes from support by an organization called Ban the Bottle, a non-profit focused on illuminating the environmental hazards and excessive costs of using plastic water bottles. According to Ban the Bottle, drinking the recommended eight glasses of water per day from the faucet costs each person less than 50 cents per year, but the same amount consumed through plastic costs approximately $1,400 per year. In 2010, the plastic bottle industry grossed more than $10.6 billion, according to NPR, with 5 percent growth in 2011. But the move away from plastic bottles is not only being embraced by college campuses. The Wall Street Journal reports that the $2.47 billion home water-filtration industry will grow by more than 18 percent between 2010 and 2013.

Still, controversy surrounds the Ban the Bottle campaign, with some students and universities supporting the ban and the construction of “water stations” across campuses, while others seek to reinstate banned bottles or prevent them from being eliminated from campuses in the first place, citing the bans as unconstitutional like the government banning the sale of plastic bottles throughout the country.

But besides the economic factors from the initial cost to the expense in trash removal, there are health concerns connected to exposure to plastic. Ban the Bottle reports the chemical antimony is found in most plastic bottles and has been linked to depression and dizziness, even death. Plastic bottles can also release BPA (bisphenol-A)—a highly controversial chemical now beginning to face bans and restrictions in countries including China, Canada and France. It’s classified as an endocrine disruptor for its ability to alter the endocrine system’s proper functioning, mimicking human hormones and leading to hormonal and behavioral issues.

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Image: Klearchos Kapoutsis