Stop Piling on: Assessing Efforts to Reduce Single-Use Water Bottles at Allegheny College

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Issue Date
2021-08-08
Authors
Bethurem, Elvin Matthew (Matt)
Choate, Beth
Bramwell, Stephanie
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Keywords
plastic waste , single-use plastics , campus sustainability
Abstract
Plastic waste represents one of the largest environmental problems of the modern era and disposable water bottles comprise a substantial portion of that waste in the U.S. Colleges are in a unique position to create systems that foster sustainable behaviors among their constituents. Since 2015, Allegheny College has installed water refill stations, and initiated a free water bottle program and an awareness campaign to reduce single-use bottles on the college’s campus. Two surveys were distributed to the student body between 2018 and 2019 to assess the efficacy of those initiatives and learn about any barriers. Bottled water use has reduced significantly since 2014, with the majority of students stating that they most commonly drink water from refill stations while on campus. Demographic factors like income, sex, or place of origin were not related to the amount of bottled water consumption or type of water preference among students. The primary barrier to students eliminating disposable water bottle use was found to be a lack of water refill stations in dormitories. Research aimed at changing behaviors to benefit the environment should consider the barrier of convenience. This research provides a valuable lesson that can extend beyond college campuses and into public settings.
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Environmental Science / Studies
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CC-BY 4.0
Citation
Bethurem, M.; Choate, B.; Bramwell, S. Stop Piling on: Assessing Efforts to Reduce Single-Use Water Bottles at Allegheny College. Sustainability 2021, 13, 8864. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168864
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Published article
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MDPI
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