Letters to the editor

Tap is better than the bottle: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

—Margaret Mead (1901–1978)

Tap is better than the bottle

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

—Margaret Mead (1901–1978)

Take Back the Tap at PSU felt that it was worth responding to the article “Don’t ban the bottle” (April 19) in order to more accurately represent the intentions, goals and strategies we have been taking in our efforts to restore the peoples’ right to clean, affordable, healthy water, something we believe can be accomplished by a movement away from bottled water and a renewed investment in public water systems.

For the past two years, Take Back the Tap at Portland State has been actively dedicated to reducing bottled water consumption at the university. Through ongoing education and outreach events, distributing more than 600 reusable water bottles, and increasing the number of filtered water refill stations on campus, we have demonstrated determination to change behaviors, helping the PSU community make more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable choices. Far from observing an apathetic audience on this issue, many people express excitement at our campaign, and just this Monday we hosted a film showing of “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” in the residence halls on campus. We collected over 100 signatures on a petition that voices student support for discontinuing the purchase of bottled water with student fee funds. Overall we have collected more than 800 signatures and counting! The millennium generation, it appears, is anything but apathetic on this issue, and also a number of other socially and environmentally relevant world matters. Anyone who still thinks otherwise should research the Powershift conference that was just held last weekend in Washington, D.C.

As the author correctly pointed out, “students here at PSU have suggested a grassroots effort to eliminate the consumption of illogical plastic.” While we are proud of the fact that our movement is born of the grassroots, we do not see such a clear division as the author does between grassroots activism and pushing for legislation that suits the demands of the people. Rather, we see the two as inseparable.

In closing, we will not accept that bottled water is here to stay just because the industry is raking in the profits from selling us what should be a universal human right: clean, affordable drinking water. It is very important to end with an observation that water from the Bull Run watershed, where Portland gets its public drinking water, is much safer than bottled water because it is regulated under such laws as the Clean Drinking Water Act, whereas bottled water faces no such strict regulation. We believe once people grasp this fact, the media blitz that has been pushed on the people, and is responsible for our seeming obsession with it, will lose its power. Our work at PSU is done in recognition that a return to a well-functioning public supply is the only sure guarantee that our water will stay in the hands of the people.

Andy Eiden