Through a non-binding referendum, students at Harvard University have voted to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus. Nearly two-thirds of students (64%) who cast a ballot voted to ban single-use bottles, effectively lobbying administrators to install water-filling stations throughout university grounds. School administrators still have the final say in determining policy, although student leaders believe the vote will compel university action.
Several other schools, including the University of Vermont, have recently installed water stations in an effort to cut waste and help the environment. Last summer, Western Washington University became the largest public school to ban single-use bottles. More than 70 colleges and universities have enacted bans or have plans to cut out the bottles.
In an op-ed in Harvard’s student newspaper, The Crimson, staff wrote: “Single-use plastic water bottles represent one of the most easily obviated threats currently plaguing the environment. The production of bottled water releases millions of tons of harmful chemicals – such as C02 – into the environment. After the water’s consumption, those very same bottles often end up in overflowing landfills. Ending the sale of bottled water on campus would constitute a step toward addressing this problem.”
Harvard administrative officials have not publicly commented on the student vote.