The New BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle

Photo by dotjay |

On-the-go eateries have become commonplace in university campuses to accommodate the constant flux of students, faculty and visitors moving from one event to the next in their busy daily schedules.  If you’re a regular consumer of bottled water, consider the thousands of others around you who are also grabbing a bottle off the shelf at a fast-food location while running off to their next class...

It may not even cross your mind where the unsustainable part of this scenario lies.  If you are a student at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga (UTM) campus, you’re probably wondering why the school decided to recently ban the sale of bottled water in a variety of cafes and dining areas.  Haven’t they been on the shelves for ages? What purpose is there in not allowing for their sale now?

If you’re a member of a post-secondary school’s community and have been perplexed by a shift to more bottle-filling stations around campus or a decline of bottled water distributors, you may be one who buys pre-packaged brand name bottles on a regular basis.  If you start developing the habit of carrying a reusable bottle with you at all times, you’d eliminate all the plastic waste you normally contribute to the Earth every time you feel like drinking water and buy bottle.  Simultaneously, you’d be keeping an extra couple dollars in your pocket whenever you bring that reusable bottle to a refilling fountain.

With UTM as the most recent institution to join the list, 32 other colleges and universities across Canada have implemented bottled-water free zones, the first being the University of Winnipeg only two years ago.  President Deep Saini of UTM strives to be a leader in environmental sustainability by initiating this responsible plan of freshwater distribution to the students and faculty of the university.   Providing UTM with bottle-filling stations promotes the stance that clean drinking water is a limited resource cannot be endlessly tapped at.

Many consumers of bottled water envision the water quality of public fountains to be downgraded in comparison to water brand name distributors sell on the shelves.  You may be surprised to know that the tap water distributed at UTM is supplied by the Region of Peel, whose regulations and standards for water quality far outweigh the more flexible rules Health Canada accepts from international brand name bottled water companies.

In a survey last spring, prior to UTM’s campus-wide installation of new bottle-filling stations, 85% of U of T respondents voted in favour of the ban.  At that point it was approved on all 3 of U of T’s campuses. 

If you are at all in doubt of the water-bottle filling stations popping up around your campus, consider the relief such efforts will have on plastic bottle waste, as well as the money in your pocket.  If you’re not on board already, it is definitely time to start bringing your own bottle.