Water bottle filling stations cutting down on plastic waste

Corbin Reiter

As of March 2019, Colorado State University Students can enjoy cool, clean water from over 100 water bottle filling stations on campus, according to Travis Croft, a sustainability intern at CSU.

Since CSU Facilities Management started keeping track of these stations in 2014, they have been used over 4 million times, saving tons of plastic waste from entering the environment, according to Facilities Management.

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“Any effort that we can make to reduce the addition of waste and encourage sustainability and helping to eliminate waste will ultimately be good and will pay off in CSU’s efforts for sustainability,” Croft said.

Nearly all buildings that hold classes have at least one water bottle filling station, and many common buildings, like the Lory Student Center and the Morgan Library, have more than five.

“In recent years, it has become an unofficial standard for facilities to add these stations into any building that is being seriously renovated, or any new building,” Croft said. “This is due to the fact that the most expensive part of adding these stations is not the actual unit, but the renovations of the wall it is mounted on.”

The addition of these stations was not a part of a campus-wide initiative with a goal of contributing to CSU’s mission of sustainability. Rather, a majority of the funding came from individual organizations, said Stacey Baumgarn, the campus energy coordinator with Facilities Management.

“Any effort that we can make to reduce the addition of waste and encourage sustainability and helping to eliminate waste will ultimately be good and will pay off in CSU’s efforts for sustainability.” – Travis Croft, CSU sustainability intern

Many of these organizations are educational departments, and a few of the others include the Associated Students of CSU and the Chemistry Graduate Student Council.

Many departments prioritize students, and that was the spark for the ASCSU bill and for many of the departments that individually funded them, Baumgarn said. Students consistently request for more places to offer water bottle filling stations, and so lots of organizations are pushing to meet this demand.

ASCSU recently contributed to the water bottle filling stations, with a bill written by Tristan Syron, student body president, and Kevin Sullivan, student body vice president, before their election. The bill was drafted twice and approved in 2018.

“It was the first time that someone had asked me to do something,” Syron said. “At the time, I was the liberal arts senator and I was like, ‘You have someone in liberal arts actually asking for something, let’s make it happen,’ and that was the inspiration.”

The bill funded seven different filling stations located across campus. Having an organization fund these stations allows for a more even spread across campus, Baumgarn said.

The main trouble for these stations is fiscal responsibility, Baumgarn said. Some departments don’t have the funding to add these fountains, and in buildings like Clark A, where many different departments hold classes, no single organization has a clear responsibility.

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Syron added that while there are people pushing for initiatives like this, there is still some progress to be made. However, he said he feels that the stations themselves serve as a symbol for the future of a more sustainable campus.

“So it’s symbolic, but I think CSU is fairly sustainable for the most part,” Syron said. 

Corbin Reiter can be reached at news@collegian.com on Twitter @CorbinReiter.