18.04.2012 in Top Stories Bookmark and Share

York plans to phase out the sale of bottled water

York University is phasing out the sale of bottled water.

The move to phase out the sale of bottled water on the Keele and Glendon campuses by September 2015 was announced Tuesday. As part of the announcement, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Vanessa Hunt, president of the York Federation of Students (YFS), signed a pledge to phase out sales of bottled water on both campuses and improve free access to clean, safe drinking water.

"York University was built on a strong commitment to social responsibility," said Shoukri. "One of the aspects of this commitment to social responsibility is to ensure that the University continues to be a leader in sustainability and protecting the environment. I am here today to announce York University's pledge to phase out the sale of bottled water by September 2015."

Mamdouh Shoukri and Vanessa Hunt sign the pledge on behalf of the University community to phase out the sale of bottled waterMamdouh Shoukri and Vanessa Hunt sign the pledge on behalf of the University community to phase out the sale of bottled water

Ilan Kapoor, professor of environment studies and the chair of the President's Sustainability Council, said the move to phase out the sale of bottled water was a significant symbolic act in favour of sustainability. "We really should not be paying for water, which is a basic component of our lives," he said. "This campus is an autonomous community – we have reasonable control over our ecological footprint and this is a significant step in that direction."

Kapoor said that while other universities and colleges have banned the sale of disposable bottles of water, the bans have been difficult to implement.

"There needs to be alternatives to bottled water " he said. "People often turn to sugary, unhealthy drinks and we want to avoid that at York. A phase out will give the University time to install more water refill stations and engage and educate the community so that we are all part of the campaign."

"In other words, it's not wYork's president tries out one of the hydration stationshat you do to be sustainable, it's how you do it that must be sustainable and that is the approach we have taken," he said.

York's president tries out one of the hydration stations

The University has already made significant progress in improving free access to drinking water with the installation of 25 water bottle refill stations on its Keele and Glendon campuses. Another five water fountains have also been converted to all for refill of reusable water bottles. Among the many departments and administrative offices on campus, the Office of the President and the Faculty of Environmental Studies has already voluntarily phased out the purchase of bottled water.

"This campaign is not only about phasing out the sale of bottled water, it also acknowledges that water is a basic human right," said Hunt. "We need to be sustainable in our practices across this University."

To mark this occasion, the York University Bookstore is taking 50 per cent off all reusable water bottles until the end of the business day on Friday.

The President's Sustainability Council and its Campus Operations & Development working group had a number of discussions about phasing out disposable bottles of water on campus with several campus stakeholders, including the YFS, York Food Services, Campus Services & Business Operations, the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-President Finance & Administration, the Faculty of Environmental Studies and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability.

To view photographs of the announcement, click here.

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor

For more University news, photos and videos, visit the YFile homepage.

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