Within the North Pacific Gyre there is a collection of plastic debris. Most of this debris is thought to be made up of plastic bottles. The garbage in this gyre floats around in a circular vortex – hence the gyre – and thus remains in a cluster, which is why people call it the Great Pacific garbage patch, or Plastic Island.
Needless to say, this is a problem.
The good news is that Alberta has over 200 bottle depots to which people can take their bottles and have them recycled. Albertans recycle over 500 million containers every year, which is about 80-90 percent of all those containers manufactured and sold.
In Calgary, as of right now, we recycle 20 percent of our waste; in this way we don’t feed landfills and Plastic Island as much as, say, San Antonio, which only recycles about 4 percent of its waste. And the city of Calgary plans on improving that figure to 80 percent by 2020.
Given this city’s and this province’s commitment to recycling, the question must be posed: why aren’t there more schools adopting a bottled water-free policy?
The first university in Alberta to adopt a bottled water-free policy happens to be our very own St. Mary’s University College. That’s right; our little institution tucked away behind Macleod Trail is leading the pack in this area. We have replaced our normal water fountains with these cool new fountains:
Yes, you’re seeing correctly: that’s 11,312 uses, and just from one fountain!
There are several of these on campus – six by my count: three in the Classroom Building, one in the Library, one in the Administration Building, and one in the Lefort Building. They not only quench one’s thirst via the traditional Bubbler Head on the bottom right hand corner of the fountain, but as you can tell from the picture, they serve as a refill station for one’s reusable water bottle.
The point is to minimize everyone’s usage of disposable water bottles and to encourage the usage of reusable bottles, and the fountains themselves, of course. Remember, Plastic Island; it grows by the minute, but here in our little school nestled in the heart of Fish Creek Park we’re trying to do our part to keep the ocean, its fragile ecosystem, and thus the world in general as healthy as possible. Don’t let our size fool ya – we dream big round here.
But perhaps it’s only right that St. Mary’s is the first university in Alberta to take on this initiative. We are located in a provincial park, after all, surrounded by wildlife, so it’s only “natural” that we do what we can to make sure we live in harmony with nature. How many universities can you go to and see deer roaming around the campus grounds?
This should be a lesson to not only the people who work and study at St. Mary’s, but to everybody everywhere: we’re all in it together, humans and non-humans, living and non-living.
So drink from our fountains, not disposable plastic water bottles!
Ain’t that right, Mr. White-Tail?
I’m taking that as a yes.