by Jed Minor (Production)
In the interest of promoting sustainabilitythe Fine Arts faculty at UFV has banned the use of water bottles inside the studios on the Abbotsford campus. Grace Tsurumaru,the faculty member who spearheaded the ban spoke to The Cascade regarding the decision.“I came up with the idea for banning commercially bottled water in the Visual Arts Departmentat our last faculty retreat, but the trend towards banning bottled water has been developing at many institutions for some time now, and we are a part of that trend. Some Canadian universities have taken the issue further by banning the sale of bottled water on campus entirely (e.g. The University of Winnipeg), including vending machines. There have also been suggestions that public water fountains be reconsidered as an alternative.” Tsurumaru addressed any possible resistance to the ban stating: “The only resistance I can see to this would be from individuals who are unaware of the dubious quality and cost of the product and the environmental damage caused by the bottled water industry.
Information is easily accessible online as to why some municipalities in Canada have enacted complete bans on this product, and there are several excellent documentaries available which examine the current water crisis, [for example] Water Voices, Flow, Blue Gold: World Water Wars, Running Dry, and Poisoned Waters.” While sustainability is not mentionedin the mission statement of UFV, Tsurumaru feels that the university has a responsibility to promote concern for the environment.“This seems like such a small step to take in promoting sustainability and sensible environmental practice, but one that is so easily attainable. Hopefully, the ban will extend to other classrooms within the University. I do feel that UFV should play a significantrole in setting an appropriate example within the community.”
The move appears to have the full support of the Fine Arts faculty at UFV. When discussing the ramification of the ban, painting instructor Chris Friesen said, “It’s kind of interesting because water bottles are just part of the problem that I see. I see a lot of the bottles from vending machines not finding their way into recycling. But with the [reusable] water bottle[s], I have been using [them] for years, where you just fill it up with water and it’s a significant enough purchase that you take it with it’s not going to find itself in the trash.”
Freisen continues: “We don’t seem to be recycling enough, so there are facilities available but we don’t have the mentality to recycle so that’s why I support [the ban].” When discussing UFV’s role in promoting sustainability Friesen explained: “I think it is important that a university get behind any sustainability action to minimize their impact on the environment. If it’s something as minimal as water bottles and we can moderately affect [our environmental impact] then it is something worth doing.” While the ban seems to be a step in the right direction in terms of making UFV more sustainable it remains to be seen whether Sodexo or Coca-Cola will oppose the ban based on their contracts to sell bottled drinks at the University.