Along with 20 other U.S. universities, the University of Portland bans disposable plastic water bottles on its campus. Could St. Thomas be the next school to stop using or selling the bottles?
Bob Douglas, coordinator of recycling and central receiving at St. Thomas, said the prospect of a similar move is uncertain.
“St. Thomas has its own brand of water, so I am not sure if they would be willing to do that,” he said.
The University of Portland stopped selling the water bottles Feb. 1 in its cafeteria, campus vending machines, concessions stands and catering services. Last year, the school used 53,112 of the bottles, according to an article released in January. Industry research says less than 25 percent of the bottles get recycled.
On St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus, about 40 to 50 percent of recyclables end up in the trash, according to Douglas. Graduations and sports events leave behind the largest numbers of wasted water bottles.
“Most of the disposable plastic water bottles are found in the trash, not in recycling,” Douglas said.
Sophomore Jenna Walsh said banning bottles would be a hassle.
“It would be a change in my lifestyle,” she said. “It would be an inconvenience in my everyday life.”
On the other hand, freshman Andrew Marschner said such a ban would not affect him.
“I carry my own water bottle, and I think it is more effective than the use of disposable plastic water bottles anyway,” he said.
Whether St. Thomas ever follows the University of Portland’s suit, Douglas said recycling is an important personal choice.
“When you do not recycle you are just fouling in your own nest,” he said.
Kristian Kircher can be reached at email@example.com.