Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bottled-water hoo-ha

A frequent if anonymous tipster sent this along earlier today. Avon Maitland DSB is adding its name to the list of school boards moving away from bottled water. There are a number of other boards who've done this over the past several years and a few more who've considered it but not moved to a full ban or cessation on the sale of bottled water from schools.
Advocates for doing this in the school system note boards should be leading by example and that the practice of moving away from bottled water fits hand-in-glove with elements of the environmental education curriculum.
Critics note the sales of bottled water do generate school-based funding for those schools who have them. Bottled waters, juices, flavoured waters and milk products became the only options for vending machine drinks in elementary schools a number of years ago after the sale of pop was banned from these schools.
Here's my issues with stopping the sale of bottled water at schools-- and I say these as someone who never buys bottled water, preferring tap water.
We should be teaching students in the appropriate forums about the impact of bottled liquids. How the production of plastic affects the environment and how the money we all spend on municipal water (or well water available in schools) produces safe, clean, tested, drinkable water.
We should pressure boards to setup recycling programs that match or better the one run by the municipality the school is located in-- currently, within my county children can recycle more at home than they can at school.
However banning bottled water doesn't rid students of responsibility for the things most bottled-water critics hate most. Vendors will simply replace bottled water with flavoured waters (which are tap water with flavour added in most cases), vitamin waters (ditto) or a plethora of other non-pop drinks that still come in plastic containers. By banning bottled water you haven't reinforced the lesson of reduce, reuse, recycle, you've simply replaced one product in the machine with another.
Plus, as a trustee at another board noted when it was debating this issue, isn't it better when we arm our students with information and encourage them to make the right choice?


Anonymous said...

It's the flavor of the year ER, nothing more.

I agree with your take on what may be a better alternative out the ban.

Hey, but welcome to our nanny-state!


Anonymous said...

I agree, it is just the flavour of the month. It stops the sale on school premises but not the bringing from home, although that would be frowned upon. Does it stop the sale of others drinks in plastic bottles or cans? What about the none recyclable, therefore garbage, jammers and drinking boxers? I drink tap water and use refillable water bottles.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 16 Nov. 23:21
Some municipalities recycle drinking boxes-- TetraPaks as they're known commercially, along with gable-top containers such as milk cartons.
Foil liquid packages, I'm not as sure of.