Students campaign to end the sale of bottled water at GBC

100 people have signed a petition to ban the sale of bottled water on all George Brown College campuses 

The amount of plastic in world’s oceans is global problem. But Courtney Hayes is trying to help by changing her own backyard.

Hayes, a post-graduate student in project management at George Brown College (GBC), has started a petition to ban the sale of plastic bottled water on all campuses.

“This initiative may seem small because it’s just about bottled water but it really does make a huge impact for the environment,” she said. “Plus, we shouldn’t have to pay $2.25 to have access to clean water.”

So far, 124 people have signed the petition.

“We want to show the people that are in charge of and making the decisions, that the students do really care about this,” said Hayes

Hayes, a graduate of Ryerson’s environmental and sustainability program, founded the GBC Sustainability Squad after seeing a need for a student club on campus.

A report called The New Plastics Economy by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation was presented at the World Economic Forum last year. The report looks at the amount of plastic that ends in the sea as well as the actions people can take.

The study revealed that 8 million tonnes of plastic, mostly from packaging, leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by seabirds and fish.  That is the equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. By 2050 the report estimates that the ocean will contain more plastic than fish.

“George Brown College has made a commitment to sustainability,” said Stephanie Foster, GBC’s sustainability co-ordinator. “We developed the green plan that included goals and actions to address the global environmental challenges, and now we are looking forward to developing a new sustainability plan that will be more comprehensible and related to engage and involve the students.”

Foster said that access to water is a human right and that she supports the campaign to end the sale of bottled water at GBC.

“A lot of people don’t think about where is the water coming from and that’s just as important as where does the plastic bottle is coming from, so I think we all need to learn more, and care more,” she said.

The University of Winnipeg was the first post-secondary institution to ban the sale of plastic bottled water in 2009. According to Maclean’s, universities of Ottawa, Queen’s, Bishop’s, Ryerson, UFTO, Concordia, Trent, Brandon, Memorial, and Fleming College have followed that path.

According to the college’s sustainability webpage, there are currently 58 water stations throughout GBC’s campuses.

Bottled water is already not sold at GBC’s Waterfront campus but Hayes said students are students asking for a cup of water, instead of bringing their own water containers.

“Everything is about awareness because those cups are not recyclable and they actually last over 100 years in the landfill, but people don’t know about it,” she said.

Foster says that the college’s “green team” will be discussing the possibility of banning the sale of bottled water in February and may recommend to the college’s management that bottled water no longer be sold at GBC.

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Students campaign to end the sale of bottled water at GBC