Two new water fountains have been installed in the main lobby of the University Center with new features that allow the user to refill a cup or bottle while simultaneously learning how they are saving plastic water bottles from being put into landfills.
Aside from the usual drinking spout found in traditional water fountains, these new fountains offer a separate area to refill a previously used bottle or cup. There is also an electronic reader that tells how many water bottles to date have been saved from landfill disposal. Dr. Michael Taylor, chair of the University Sustainability Committee, said the water fountains are a great way of promoting environmental sustainability on campus. “Many people feel that bottled water is better quality than tap water. However, the truth is that most bottle water is filled using the same municipal water that comes out of our faucets and water fountains,” Taylor said.
The new features of the water fountains provide people with the convenience of refilling already purchased bottles and saving the $1.75 it would cost to buy a new water bottle from campus vending machines. The fountains have a separate spout that automatically detects the presence of a water bottle and begins filling it with water, stopping when the bottle is removed from under the spout. “These new water fountains make it easy to fill reusable containers and therefore make it a viable option for people on the go,” Taylor said. “A nice feature of these water fountains is the ability to track how many plastic bottles are being kept out of the waste stream through refills.” According to Taylor, over 30 billion bottles of water are sold each year in the U.S., requiring over 90 million gallons of oil to produce and transport. However, about 90 percent of the recyclable bottles end up in landfills.
Josh Lewis, coordinator for University Center operations, thinks the new fountains are effective and convenient for the Seton Hall community. “I’m a fan,” Lewis said. “I think they’re a good idea and can see them becoming campus-wide.” Currently, the two fountains in the University Center are the only ones of their kind on-campus. John Signorello, head of the Office of Sustainability within the Facilities Department, said the committee is always looking at new items and decided to trial a unit on campus.
“Many of the campus community carry reusable water bottles,” Signorello said. “We thought this would support that trend.” According to Signorello, depending on the amount of positive feedback regarding the new water fountains, the University Sustainability Committee is looking for future installation of the fountains at areas of high water bottle use, such as residence halls and the recreation center. Joanna Toole can be reached at Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org