Bottled Water Ban Update: Harvard University

Published On March 27, 2012 | By Tomás Bosque | News

We’re excited to launch a new blog series giving updates to existing Ban the Bottle campaigns throughout the United States and Canada. Each post will focus on one organization’s efforts to curb bottled water waste.

Harvard University has taken steps to help reduce bottled water waste on its historic campus through a variety of initiatives including college-specific bans on bottled water, green office initiatives, and providing students and faculty access to filtered water stations.

Harvard Ends the Sale of Bottled Water

In February 2009, the Harvard School of Public Health ended the sale of plastic bottled water in an effort to become more sustainable. Members of the HSPH community were encouraged to bring their own water bottles and take advantage of free filtered water, available on campus.

In order to promote and aid this effort, HSPH Operations gave away more than 2,500 eco-friendly refillable water bottles to students. Many departments, such as Epidemiology, also have purchased and installed water filtration systems on their floors. Environmentally conscious Green Team members from the Epidemiology Department took action and voiced their support for a sink and water filtration system when they heard that their departmental kitchen was going to be renovated.

The Harvard School of Public Health’s Ban the Bottle efforts resulted in an enormously positive impact to sustainability. By eliminating the sale of bottled water from its cafeteria, the Harvard School of Public Health eliminates about 1000 plastic bottles a week from the waste stream, which adds up to over 52,000 plastic bottles per year. That’s enough plastic to fill two entire landfills!

Harvard Faculty Club Bans the Bottle

At the renowned Harvard Faculty Club the latest guest amenity comes in the form of an elegant clear glass bottle. For more than a month, Faculty Club employees have been filling those glass bottles with filtered carbonated or still water from new machines. The initiative is just one more way the Club’s staff are putting Harvard’s sustainability commitment into action.

The idea originated with employees looking for new ways to improve their sustainability efforts. They ultimately chose a product that delivered the quality customers expected, was cost-effective and reduced the Club’s environmental footprint by cutting emissions from the delivery of bottled water and eliminating waste from the thousands of single-use plastic and glass bottles previously used.

This campaign helps eliminate the use of over 15,000 plastic and glass bottles annually.

Harvard Graduate School Installs Filtered Water Filling Station

Harvard Graduate School’s Green Team encourages students, faculty, staff and visitors to drink from one of our several filtered water fountains around campus; and refill your reusable mugs and water bottles in the Conroy Commons Café (Longfellow basement). Check out the group’s website for a link to a map showing water filling stations.

Harvard’s Impression LEED Building Strategy

It’s important to note Harvard not only takes efforts to ban the bottle, but the university has made a strong case for sustainable building. The USGBC announced last year that Harvard University has completed a major milestone, having achieved 50 LEED certified buildings. Over the last 10 years, Harvard University has been actively renovating their historic buildings and constructing new buildings, all while working to make them as sustainable as they can. Harvard’s achievement marks them as the first institute of higher learning to have so many buildings certified. What’s even more impressive though is that they have 40 more LEED projects on the board or under construction right now.

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2 Responses to Bottled Water Ban Update: Harvard University

  1. Don MacNeil says:

    Do you know where I can get a full list of US colleges that have implemented full or partial water bottle bans? I see partial list but no full ones

    Thanks and keep up the great work

  2. Scott Jones says:

    There is AASHE that has a comprehensive list, but it requires a membership.

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