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Tapping Into Sustainability

Student Effort Urges Reusable Water Bottles

March 14, 2014

It's called Take Back the Tap — a student-led effort to convince CSUF students to switch their bottled water habit to reusable containers and tap water.

"Take Back the Tap has several goals, but at the core of the project is ultimately, eliminating the unnecessary use of plastic water bottles," said Andris Rapa, a graduate student in environmental engineering and one of four students involved in the effort. "Plastic water bottles are used once and thrown out, and the majority end up in landfills or as litter in the environment."

Take Back the Tap was proposed for last year's Earth Week student contest, and came up again during a planning meeting for this year's observance (April 15-17), remembers environmental studies graduate student Rosangela Carreon. Other members of the efforts are Amanda Lopez, a member of the Associated Students Committee on Environmental Sustainability and Miranda Domino of PowerSave Campus.

"I remember thinking, 'yes let's do this,'" Carreon said. Rapa agreed. During his undergraduate marine biology studies at UC Santa Cruz, Rapa spent time at Australia's Moreton Bay Research Station. While there, a dead sea turtle had washed up on shore.

"We carried the corpse to the lab and performed a necropsy on the animal. The cause of death was plastic. It was jammed in the sea turtle's stomach and blocked its digestion functions," Rapa said. "It was sad, but unfortunately not uncommon: three turtles in all washed ashore with the same fate during my ten-day stay at the facility."

During Earth Week (April 15-17), students, faculty, staff and campus visitors will take part in a tap vs. bottled water taste test.

"This campaign is great not only to reduce the usage of plastic bottles on campus, but also to get students thinking consciously about sustainability and the simple actions that they can take to help make a huge difference," said Domino.

"A water bottle-free campus may sound lofty and difficult to accomplish, but we are motivated by the successes of other universities," said Rapa. "Over 90 campuses across the U.S. are water bottle free. I believe Cal State Fullerton is ready to Take Back the Tap."

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