09 March 2009

What our university should do, and why, but won't

I walk past these three vending machines every day as I go to my office. In my building, there are at least 17 vending machines, of which at least 11 sell beverages. I think our university should get rid of them.

We don’t need bottled water, as there's drinking water on campus. This week’s Science Podcast discussed a study to estimate the energy cost of bottle water compared to drinking tap water, and bottled water doesn’t come out well:

(I)t turns out that for every bottle of water you drink it might as well be a quarter full of oil, for the amount of oil that’s being consumed in order to produce all of this bottled water. ...

(W)e’re talking about 50 million barrels of oil a year. And, just for point of comparison, that’s the same amount of oil used in the entire U.S. over two days – all the cars we drive, all the factories, all the lights we turn on – everything – so it’s a really big chunk of the oil that’s consumed. ...

Just from bottled water.

As for soft drinks, they ain’t the best of stuff for ya:

Cutting the consumption of sugary drinks by half is a key recommendation of the World Cancer Research Fund report.

And I’ll point out the additional perverseness of selling soft drinks for a university located in an area with rampant Type II diabetes.

Then, there’s the sheer amount of plastic generated by bottled drinks, described in this TED talk.

I don’t know how much money our university makes from vending machines. But I’ll bet it’s enough for the university wouldn’t get rid of them.

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