University of Maryland Bans Bottled Water Sales at All School Functions
This past March, in an effort to boost environmental sustainability and reduce costs, the Graduate Student Government at the University of Maryland voted to ban most bottled water purchases for its functions.
The Graduate Student Government’s measure, modeled after a similar policy the undergraduate Student Government Association enacted last year, will prohibit the purchase of bottled water in containers smaller than a gallon without specific permission.
“We think that acts that promote environmental awareness are something the GSG should be encouraged to do now and in the future,” Stefanie Sherrill, who chairs the GSG’s budget and finance committee, said at Friday’s meeting.
But Jason Hesch, a community planning representative, said he felt specific acts promoting sustainability were not as effective as broader actions.
“You don’t really need to make a bylaw to support or not support the bottled water,” Hesch said when the GSG debated the measure in February. “We can just support sustainability on all platforms, which is a much better way to go; being sustainable does not mean going backward and devolving back to the stone ages.”
Most GSG members, however, said creating an act was helpful to hold assembly members accountable for supporting a sustainable campus.
“I think the idea of actually passing it as a bylaw makes a lot of sense because it actually commits you to something,” said Yakov Kronrod, a linguistics representative. “As far as it being a burden, if you’re serious about sustainability, then it’s OK to burden yourself a little bit.”
Individual water bottles have borne criticism for their wastefulness and relatively high costs; Barrett Dillow, who sponsored the act, said bottled water is about 10,000 times more expensive than tap water.
While most GSG members sided with the principle of the bill, many recommended less stringent restrictions on purchasing bottled water.
The Budget and Finance Committee suggested an amendment — ultimately successful — that bottled water sold in large, less-wasteful containers be permitted. The bill also allows for organizers of events with legitimate need for smaller water bottles to petition the GSG for permission to buy them.
After extensively discussing the bill and its amendments at their February meeting, GSG members debated little before passing the bill.