Rebecca Laffan 2018-10-03

UL students have dramatically reduced the amount of disposable bottles used on campus, preventing the waste of over 400 plastic bottles per week.

Two fountains, which produce fresh, ice-cold water, were introduced to the UL Student Life Centre in December last year, and are proving to be a huge hit on campus.

The fountain upstairs in the centre has passed 10,000 water bottles worth of usage, with the fountain downstairs totalling at over 6,000 bottles so far.

The idea for a water bottle refill station that counts the bottles saved originally came from a study abroad student Maddie Ybarra, who had seen these at her home university in California.

She brought forward the idea at a UL Environmental Society meeting.

“When the Society first started our members, specifically study abroad and Erasmus students, came in with a lot of concerns about how many single-use plastic water bottles they saw on campus,” a spokesperson for the society said.

“We made that the main focus for our first semester by developing projects that would draw attention to the overuse and hopefully help to reduce the waste.”

After a lot of hard work from Maddie and the society, the Green Campus Committee, and a final big push from Jack from UL’s former Student Union by securing funding from Bank of Ireland, it was finally a success.

“We are so pleased that the campus community now has two clean, functional, and awareness raising places to fill our bottles and we hope students feel enabled to stop buying single-use plastic bottles,” says UL’s Environmental Society, “cheers to many more!”

Why opt for re-usable bottles?

Ireland produces more plastic waste than any other European country, and it has been estimated that each person generates over 61kg of plastic waste per year – that’s around 2,000 water bottles worth.

When sent to landfill, plastic water bottles take over 450 years to decompose, while the burning of plastic releases poisonous chemicals into our air, which negatively affects the health of animals and humans when inhaled.

Every year, about 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the world’s oceans. In fact, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than there are fish (by weight).

What’s worse is most marine organisms can’t tell the difference between plastic from food, and often starve because they can’t digest the plastic and it fills their stomachs, preventing them from eating real food.

How YOU can help:

Firstly, make sure to recycle any disposable plastic bottles you do use (after feeling guilty about the fish thing). You can re-use them a couple of times, but it’s advised to dispose of them for your own health after that, as they are technically a “single-use” plastic.

However, to avoid waste altogether, simply invest in a reusable bottle. You can opt for durable plastic, or even metal or glass – simply fill up and go. This will not only save the planet but will save you a LOT of cash in the long run.

Get into the habit of avoiding using single-use plastics, such as coffee cups, lids, plastic bags, food containers and cutlery. Reusable alternatives are popping up everywhere nowadays, from metal straws to bamboo toothbrushes.

So, have you got the bottle?

 

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