BURLINGTON (AP) -- An arch made with 2,000 empty plastic water bottles in the student center at the University of Vermont was dedicated Wednesday as a monument to the school’s decision to end the sale of bottled water on the Burlington campus.
The "bottled water retirement party" Wednesday, the last day of classes during the fall semester, was symbolically consecrated when dozens of students, faculty and staff walked through the arch, dubbed a "monument to waste."
The ban takes effect on Jan. 1.
"To me bottled water is a symbol and a symptom of how far our culture has strayed from the path of conscience, responsibility and respect for life on earth," said Mykala McDonald, 24, of Montpelier, a 2010 UVM graduate who helped begin the four-year-long push to end bottled water on campus in favor of water filling stations where people can refill reusable containers. "Bottled water is symbolic of our culture’s obsession with convenience and the escalating problem of privatization of public resources."
UVM officials said the school is the first public university to ban the sale of bottled water while 22 private campuses have made the move.
A major complaint about bottled water is the fossil fuel resources needed to produce and fill the bottles. Statistics compiled by the group Food and Water Watch say that in 2007 bottled water production used between 32 million to 54 million barrels of oil a year to produce and transport bottled water. And about 75 percent of those bottles are never recycled, the school claims.
The sculpture itself was created by UVM art instructor Beth Haggart.