News Feature | December 13, 2013

Harvard Students Try To Ban Bottled Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Tap water got a vote of confidence from Harvard College students last month. 

In the school's elections, a majority of voters said they want to see the sale of bottled water banned from campus, and they want to see renewed efforts to promote tap water. 

It remains to be seen whether administrators will comply, but vote organizers said they will lobby to have those wishes met, according to the College Fix

The fall ballot at the college included this question: "Do you support or oppose ending the sale and distribution of plastic non-reusable water bottles on campus (including at Harvard cafes and Crimson Catering events) and making drinking water more accessible through the installation of additional water fountains and reusable water bottle filling stations?”

According to results posted on the Harvard Undergraduate Council website,

64 percent of voters said "support."

Harvard students began the effort to get bottled water off campus years ago. 

"In February 2009, the Harvard School of Public Health ended the sale of plastic bottled water in an effort to become more sustainable. Members of the HSPH community were encouraged to bring their own water bottles and take advantage of free filtered water, available on campus," the Ban The Bottle advocacy group reported

To promote the effort, the public health school gave away thousands of refillable water bottles. The school said the effort "eliminates about 1000 bottles a week from the waste stream, which adds up to over 52,000 plastic bottles per year," according to Ban The Bottle, which is enough plastic to fill two landfills.

Ban The Bottle works with students to make their campuses more sustainable. 

Not everyone at Harvard supported the bottle water ban. One student and editorial writer wrote in the college paper that "limiting consumer choice" could have unintended consequences. 

University of Vermont students recently voted to ban bottled water, as well. 

UVM was "the first public university in New England to enact such a ban. Students are quickly becoming better acquainted with the school’s 215 drinking fountains, where water from Lake Champlain is piped free to thirsty students and into personal, reusable bottles dangling from thousands of backpacks," the Boston Globe reported

Image credit: "Bottled Water Macros December 02, 20106," © 2010 stevendepol, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

Want to publish your opinion?

Contact us to become part of our Editorial Community.