Thursday, June 11, 2009
I'm speaking to the school board next week on bottled water. The board wants to ban it from sale in the schools, but a trustee or two is filing motion to stop the ban for fear that students will turn to pop and "juices" instead and become obese and/or diabetic. They're proposing a comprehensive plan concerning bottled water use that might involve a lengthy, time-consuming committee development, implementation, and yadda yadda yadda.
Here's some of my ideas in point form that I'll split up with a student speaker.
The Switch to Pop Theory
Students in our school have shifted significantly and easily from bottled water to tap water in stainless steel water bottles. By selling the bottles in many styles and then offering them as prizes, most students seem to have a re-usable bottle. In fact it seems to be a bit of a status symbol or fashion statement. You're old school if you still drink out of disposable bottles. We also held a water taste test, and most students were shocked to find they prefer the school's tap water to two popular brands of water that have been shipped from who-knows-where and sat on shelves for months.
Next year we intend to get a water dispenser that will sit in the cafeteria, unplugged, and filled with tap water. This will increase water drinking even more as many bottles can't be easily refilled from a water fountain. If we want students to drink water instead of pop or juice, we just have to make water more accessible and free! If we want to really make sure kids only drink water and not pop or juice, we can also ban pop and fruity drinks sometimes called juice.
The Profits Conundrum
Schools make a tidy sum on vending machines. It really is a shame that schools can't fund sports and clubs with public money but have to rely on corporate sponsorship, bake sales, and pop machines. We don't want students to drink pop, but we need the profits from the pop machine. Isn't it funny that the board wants to ban water bottles, before it looks at pop. I'm pretty sure it's not because water in plastic is less healthy than pop in plastic, but, obviousy, because water sales don't hit the heights of pop sales. It's a smaller hit to take. I have no solutions for this. I don't think we'll make enough profit on apples and salad to fund teams. Any ideas?
Both Coke (Dasani) and Pepsi (Aquafina) have admitted that their water is from a tap. It's not special water from a spring. But we should be happy about this because in the film FLOW (For the Love of Water), it's made clear that bottled water is almost entirely unregulated, and municipal tap water is, in most cases in this part of the world, highly regulated. In 2003, almost 10% of food poisoning cases in the UK have been linked to bottled water. It won't be until December 1st, 2009 that it will finally be illegal to have any E. coli contamination in bottled water, and bottlers will be required to test their water weekly. From now until December, you're on your own.
Nothing should be consumed out of soft plastics that can be crushed with one hand. Soft plastics leach several toxins like BPA, and even hard plastic is coming into question. Remember when all pop and condiments and everything came in glass? Glass can be recycled more efficiently, and it doesn't add crap to our food. Yes, I also remember broken glass all over the place, so now we're into stainless steel bottles which don't break and don't leach.
If anyone has other reasons to stop the stopping of a plastic water bottle ban, let me know, and maybe I can strengthen my position by Monday. AND if you've got points in support of selling water in school, let me know that too. Then I'll know what I'm up against!