Western Washington University to end bottled water sales

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) - Western Washington University will end bottled water sales on campus April 1.

The Bellingham Herald reports Western will be the largest Washington state college or university to ban bottled water sales, thanks to an initiative led by Students for Sustainable Water. The aim was to get people to turn to tap water.

Western students endorsed the ban in spring 2012, with 73 percent of voters in favor of asking the university to stop selling and distributing bottled water on campus.

Following the student initiative, a task force of students, faculty and university staff met to implement the measure.

Carolyn Bowie, a member of Students for Sustainable Water at Western, says sales of bottled water are harmful to the environment, in part because just 13 percent of the plastic bottles are recycled.

Part of that effort included finding ways to offset lost revenue, with student groups agreeing to make up any possible funding loss.

Western says bottled water sales amounted to roughly 10 percent - or $40,000 annually - of all cold beverage sales on campus.

Leonard Jones, director of University Residences, called that $40,000 loss a worst-case scenario. He said someone who can't buy water from a vending machine might instead buy soda or juice.

"We believe that people will buy something else," Jones said.