After Water Advisory, Rethink Bottled Water

During the recent boil water advisory, I cowered in fear of what mysterious death-inducing microbes might be lurking in the innocuously clear water flowing readily from my faucet. My housemates and I threw huge pots of water on the stove and hoped for the best. Using boiled water to drink, wash dishes, and brush my teeth was extremely inconvenient — but it made me think about people who do not have access to clean water (let alone a running faucet) as a fact of life. Water has been declared a human right by the United Nations, and yet over a billion people lack access to clean water. It is staggering that so many live without one of life’s most basic necessities. Americans easily forget that the municipal water system we so readily take for granted would be considered an unthinkable luxury for a large proportion of the globe. While we should be thankful for what we have, it seems callous not to make an effort in assisting those who are so dramatically less fortunate.

Americans spend around $10 billion on bottled water every year. We are paying for water in a form that is not only environmentally irresponsible but also unnecessary health-wise. In most communities in the United States, municipal tap water is of the same quality as bottled water. For those not convinced, buying a water filter will further purify their tap water. Drinking Water for India, a Lawrenceville-based, student-run nonprofit, builds wells in Indian villages for $1,000 each, serving some of the 200 million in the country who do not have access to clean water. If instead of spending $10 billion on redundant water we shared this disposable income with those who actually are in dire need of water access, 200 million Indians’ water needs would be met — using only a one hundredth of the money we spend unnecessarily on bottled water.

*Please visit or find a member of TCNJ’s Amnesty International, or Water Watch to donate the dollar you were about to spend on a bottle of water to someone in genuine need.



In 2006, the overwhelming majority of emissions on campus came from heating and electricity, creating 39,649 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. This figure is equal to 87,412,096 pounds, or the amount of greenhouse gases generated by 7,625 cars in an average year. What can be taken from these statistics? The simple act of turning out the lights when leaving a room or shutting down a computer when logging off will have marked positive effects on our college’s contribution to curbing climate change. While this may seem obvious, an evening stroll through campus or a visit to a deserted computer lab reveals that many individuals are not cognizant of the benefits of reducing energy use. Lights can be seen shining from windows every night and throughout the weekend in empty academic buildings and barren residential common rooms. Additionally, it is an anomaly to sit down to a computer that has to actually be turned on, even early in the morning when presumably no one has used it all night. After a recent Saturday visit to three of Holman Hall’s computer labs, I found that only two of the sixty-one computers not in use had been shut down. Not surprisingly, the lights were on in two labs with no occupants. Judging by the energy usage in Holman, one would think there was a band of ghostly graphic designers in the building, working furiously to meet otherworldly deadlines. With the pressing need to act promptly to halt climate change, it is not much to ask to switch off lights and shut down computers.



Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the environmental ethos that has been etched into our minds since elementary school. More recently, these words or other derivatives have been appearing on t-shirts, cosmetics, and even coffee cups. But how much thought is actually given to the actions that they purport to suggest? Does the mass production of “environmentally-friendly” t-shirts realistically help to reduce over-consumption? Are cosmetic companies actually putting reusable shampoo bottles on the market? Is 10% of that Starbucks cup really post-consumer recycled material? Continue reading “A DARKER SHADE OF GREEN”