The Chain of Bottles I Managed to Not Get Tangled In
The goal was to ban the distribution and selling of disposable water bottles on campus. This original goal was modeled after the Ban the Bottle campaign going on internationally in high schools and universities. The focus of this goal changed when it did not appear to be economically feasible for Chartwells to do right now. The ultimate goal was to raise awareness of how disposable water bottles are a waste of resources. This was done over the span of a 24-hour demonstration on the Jaywalk during Green Week 2015. A part of the demonstration stayed up for three weeks after this day.
Originally, I met with one of the presidents of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) and a member of Treehouse to discuss the implementation of the Ban the Bottle movement here on campus. Both were on board with the idea and WCSA had already ordered six new hydration stations the month before. The new hydration stations were being installed throughout the semester across campus. After meeting with Chartwells District Manager, Gene Castelli, this movement seemed to be a less attainable goal. Notably though, he did say that water bottle sales had already been steadily dropping. From the spring semester of 2014 to the fall of that same year, SmartWater sales were reduced by close to 2,000 sales (1,914 in actuality). So a demonstration to further awareness of bottled water’s waste of resources began to be planned. One possibility that was briefly explored was having a recyclable fashion show with items made of bottles but that proved to be too time consuming. So stringing together as many water bottles as possible and hanging them across campus was decided.
First, I researched the requirements to be a part of the Ban the Bottle Initiative. OWU already met one of them because they had already had a showing of the film Tapped in fall of 2014. In the meeting with WCSA, other conditions were seriously considered until it didn’t seem plausible. We realized we’d need to look into Chartwells’ contract and find any loopholes. The water bottles Chartwells sells are Dasani and SmartWater are both brands owned by the Coca-Cola Company. To no longer sell these brands, it would have to be known when the contract with Coca-Cola would be renewed and if those brands could be written out of the contract (but still include soda and other products). SInce the demonstration was decided upon, collection of bottles began in late February. A classmate put a container in the weight room on campus marked “water bottles only” and this was emptied weekly. Other bottles were collected around campus: in trash bins, recycling containers, and from the ground. In total, roughly seven trash bags were collected and stored in the InterFaith House and in the Science Center. Buildings and Grounds (B&G) was contacted to get approval for the demonstration. They helped get the track teams stakes to hang the strings of bottles on. They also gave up some nylon rope and a needle-like tool to string the bottles. Caps were taken off the bottles and strung from the mouth of the container to the other end.
Any water left in bottles was put in gallon-sized containers that would be used later in the demonstration. Approval from WCSA, the Student Involvement Office and B&G was needed for the demonstration. Once gained, on the night of April 15, 2015 students from the class helped set up.
About ten cardboard signs (ranging in size) contained facts about disposable bottled water or simple said, “ban the bottle” or “buy reusable.”
These were hung up along the protest that covered almost the entire expanse of the Jay. One string went from Corns Building to Beeghly library. Another was on the grass outside the Benes rooms. Another was in frony of the mural past Hamilton-Williams and the the last was strung in between the trees outside Chappelear Drama Center. The ones in the trees didn’t require the track team’s stakes to stay up and therefore, stayed up longer. The day of the demonstration was the water-focused day of Green Week. Most was taken down late April 16 and the stakes were returned to B&G early April 17.
Gene Castelli of Chartwells (Gene.Castelli@compass-usa.com)
Dennis Wall of B&G (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Emma Drongowski of WCSA (email@example.com)
Emily Romig of Treehouse (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Transcript (email@example.com)