Looking at reducing bottled water at the University of Regina

By Dale Johnson Posted: December 7, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Students in a Marketing Research class (l-r) Eric Flaman, Kehlsie Crone, Jordan Peto and Arthur Ward, give a presentation on reducing bottled water on campus.
Students in a Marketing Research class (l-r) Eric Flaman, Kehlsie Crone, Jordan Peto and Arthur Ward, give a presentation on reducing bottled water on campus. Photo courtesy of Rae Graham - U of R Photography.

Some University of Regina business students are looking at ways to make the University of Regina more environmentally friendly by seeing if there are ways to reduce the consumption of bottled water on campus.

It was an assignment in BUS 413, Marketing Research, taught by Professor Magdalena Cismaru. She approached Carol Reyda, the University’s Sustainability Coordinator, to see if there were specific research topics that could be of value to the administration.

Reyda says “I think it’s fantastic that students are using the campus as their research canvas. Sustainability is one of the areas of emphasis – along with Indigenization – that informs all our decision-making and academic activities, as outlined in the University’s Strategic Plan peyak aski kikawinaw.”

The students were divided into five groups and conducted research.

One group estimated that about 200,000 bottles of water are bought annually at the University of Regina. There are environmental costs to produce that many bottles, and not all of them are recycled, further harming the environment.

The students looked at what’s being done at other universities in Canada and the United States. They observed students at drinking fountains and vending machines at the U of R. They did surveys to find out if students were ready to give up bottled water and what alternatives would need to be in place.

Then they presented their findings to their classmates and U of R staff.  

Among the suggestions:

•    Install filtered water stations

•    Promote the purchase of reusable water bottles – or provide them free to new students

•    Offer “boxed” water – that is, water in more environmentally-friendly cardboard boxes, similar to milk cartons

•    Launch an advertising campaign to make students more aware of the environmental damage done by bottled water, and suggest alternatives

Reyda attended the presentations and calls the students’ work “detailed, insightful and creative.” She says that some of these ideas might someday become a reality.

“One good thing from the point of view of Facilities Management was that we heard that the water filling stations on campus are being used, and that’s excellent. The other common thread was that more stations and an awareness campaign would reduce bottled water usage on campus,” Reyda says.

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