A group of students at Loyola University have passed a referendum that would all but eliminate bottled water across the Chicago campus.
After several educational campaigns led by the Student Environmental Alliance and the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy over the last few years, a majority of students voted last week to phase out the sale of disposable water bottles on campus in 2013, according to a university release.
The university has already taken steps in that direction, distributing reusable bottles to incoming students and installing 35 bottle refill stations at the school's campuses in the Loop and Rogers Park, according to the Associated Press. Students and administrators say the goal of the initiative is to help direct attention to water access issues and conservation efforts across the midwest and beyond.
“It is exciting to see the leadership and commitment from the students on the topic of water,” said Aaron Durnbaugh, director of sustainability at Loyola, said in a statement. “With our location on the banks of the greatest fresh water resource in the world, our drinking water could be taken for granted, but the students recognize its value and our responsibility to protect and preserve this resource for all.”
While the university believes it's the first in Illinois to institute a water bottle ban, similar initiatives have been introduced at the University of Vermont and Harvard University's School of Public Health, which prohibits bottled water sales in their cafeteria as of this year, the Chicago Tribune reports. Loyola's two campuses sell roughly 8,500 bottles of water in dining halls monthly, a figure that doesn't include vending machine sales.