“The University of Portland takes seriously its commitment to being a good steward of the planet,” said University President Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C. “This will not only reduce the amount of waste generated on our campus but will help focus attention on the critical issues of sustainability and water rights.”
In 2009, the University of Portland used 53,112 disposable plastic water bottles. According to industry research, less than 25 percent of disposable plastic water bottles are recycled. Much of the water contained in disposable plastic bottles comes from distant locations, requiring a large environmental cost to bale, ship and transport the bottles.
With the assistance of student groups and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sustainability, Bon Appétit , the University’s food service provider, made the decision to stop selling disposable plastic water bottles at The Cove, a University café, in all campus vending machines and at concessions stands at athletic events, and to discontinue use in catering services on campus.
“It’s something we need to do,” said Bon Appétit general manager Kirk Mustain. “It’s a goal that is attainable, and water is becoming a key issue worldwide. Sustainability is important on our campus and for Bon Appétit .”
In addition to being good for the environment, because water being sold in disposable plastic water bottles is part of a process of privatization of water resources, the sustainable purchasing decision not to buy or sell disposable plastic water bottles also fits into the Catholic belief, as stated in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, that water cannot be treated as a commodity and that access to water is a universal and inalienable right.
“Water is a human right, and it’s best when a community has control of its own water,” said Br. Dave Andrews, C.S.C., coordinator for Justice and Peace for the Congregation of Holy Cross and senior representative for Food & Water Watch. “There are Holy Cross institutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America in places that are most seriously affected by climate change. The Congregation of Holy Cross has put a priority on sustainability and our colleges are taking that seriously.”
Stonehill College of Easton, Mass., a fellow Holy Cross college, has already eliminated the sale of disposable plastic water bottles.
The move to eliminate disposable plastic water bottles comes just two months before the University hosts Confluences: Water & Justice, a three-day conference from March 26-28 that brings together some of the nation’s leading experts to examine various perspectives on water, including environmental justice, protection, science, theology, business, history, law and the Native American perspective. For more information or to register for the conference, please visit this website: https://pilots.up.edu/web/confluences
To help support its continuing sustainability efforts, since 2008 the University has offered the ‘Green UP Your Gift’ option that accepts donations for green initiatives on campus, including installing energy-efficient windows and water-conserving shower heads. Donations to this fund can be given online on a secure server at: https://webster.up.edu/giveonline/