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Campus Water Bottle Ban = Pop/Juice Binge?

In fall 2012 Queen’s University will implement its water bottle ban across campus. It is going to be a slow-moving process to phase out vending machines and phase in water fountains. They aren’t going to be adding that many new fountains across campus, just making them snazzier (i.e. ensuring that they actually work). Queen’s will join a number of other Canadian universities including Ottawa, Trent, Concordia and Winnipeg who have already adopted the campus ban.

I get it. Reducing waste while getting people to utilize municipal water sources is important. I get that, but I don’t get this initiative.

In searching for stats/information on this issue I came across this article, which summarizes my point perfectly. Taking away the ONLY healthy choice from vending machines is not the answer. Come 2012, the majority of Queen’s students in search of a thirst quencher (who forgot or have not purchased a personal water bottle) will head to the vending machine and see a wide selection of pop and juice. Thinking they are making the healthier choice they will choose either juice or diet pop. I have already talked about juice in my sugar rant. I haven’t talked about aspartame yet, but I will. Neither are good. 

So why not ban liquid sugar and supposed cancer-causing agents? Oh yeah, money. Terminating a contract with Coca-Cola or Pepsi would be bad news bears for universities. I guess sacrificing the health of students is acceptable in this instance.

Yes, you can argue for free-will – students have the choice to not buy the bad stuff. Yes, you can argue that getting up to go the fountain will incorporate activity breaks into your day. Those are valid arguments. But I don’t see more activity breaks on the horizon. I would hasten a bet that water consumption will actually go down. Who wants to get up every 1/2 hour for a small sip (in the case you have forgotten your own bottle). I mean you should be getting up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. You should go and purchase a water bottle and use the water stations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. You shouldn’t eat Mars Bars, donuts, or Jelly Bellies, but you do.

I haven’t been able to find any statistics from universities that have made the switch. Has the use of water fountains/taps increased since the ban? Has the purchase of pop/juice increased? How many students on campus have their own personal hydration device? Has that number increased since the ban? Do students even know about the ban? If anyone does have answers to any of my questions please pass them along.

I don’t like this plan. I think too many people have accepted the ban at face-value without more careful consideration of the cause and effect. Many (I mean many) will argue against my statement, but that’s OK. I like debate.

 Happy drinking.

M

Picture courtesy of Stevendepolo

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