By Rebecca Burton
Ryerson pledged to phase-out bottled water earlier this year but, so far, few alternative options have become available to students on campus.
Earlier this year, Ryerson entered a three-year agreement to phase out bottled water on campus by 2013 and replace it with drinking fountains and reusable bottle vending machines.
“It’s a gradual process,” said Andrew McAllister, the board of governor’s sustainability commissioner.
Ryerson will have a three-year grace period to phase in alternatives for students, like drinking fountains and reusable water bottle vending machines.
So far the entire student campus centre, including both Oakham House and the Ram in the Rye have committed to the pledge and have eliminated bottled water from their menu.
“We certainly lost some revenue but the issue is more than loss of revenue, it’s about creating less disposable waste. We’re doing what we think students want,” said Rick Knapp, food and beverage manager of the SCC.
The first floor of the student campus centre is the only place to find a refillable water station so far.
“I always hear ‘there’s not enough fountains on campus from students,” said McAllister.
McAllister says that the RSU will try to install these stations on every floor of the building by the end of this year. They have also been committed to handing out free reusable water bottles at every Ryerson student event during the past two weeks of Frosh and Week of Welcome. They have also promised to continue to distribute bottles around campus throughout the year.
One of the main battles that the university is currently facing is around infrastructure.
“We need to improve infrastructure. Many buildings and infrastructures aren’t designed to be bottled water free,” said RSU president Toby Whitfield.
Water fountains in Kerr Hall, the library and podium buildings have to be repaired before students can begin using these fountains. Currently, the ductwork around the water piping contains asbestos and has to be replaced before the building can commit to eliminating bottled water.
The university still sells bottled water at the cafeterias in Pitman Hall, ILLC, and Jorgensen Hall yet have cut down on the amount that they purchase in their contract.
The Ryerson Student’s Union main focus right now is educating students on why they are going bottled water free.
“We need to educate people each year as new students come on campus,” said Whitfield.
Whitfield recognized that a main challenge for Ryerson students would be not having the convenience of bottled water to bring into class. Yet a personal victory for the RSU will be the amount of money they will save by not providing bottles of water at their events throughout the year. In the long run, there will be a huge savings by offering the alternative of jugs of tap water at all public student events.
“Their intentions are good but there’s room for improvement,” said Jillian Robinson, 22, first year criminal justice student.
“Perhaps they should give away reusable bottles at the bookstore instead of free bags,” she said.
John Corallo, head of ancillary services, also noted that other water products, such as Vitamin water, were not included in these discussions and will continue to be sold on campus.