Introduction

Thirsty???

Thirsty???

(First things first, I’m so excited to be blogging for lifeatuoft again!! It’s going to be a great year…I can feel it.)

As I was waiting in line at the bookstore the other night I saw this:

Disposable Water Bottle Ban Sign in the U of T Bookstore

Disposable Water Bottle Ban Sign in the U of T Bookstore

Yes that’s right, U of T is banning the sale of bottled water in all retail outlets, food service outlets, and in all vending machines on campus (over a three-year period). The bottled water revolution (or was that a war?) is over, at least here at U of T. The U of T Water Initiative really seems like a step forward in providing environmentally friendly and free access to water, but I wonder how I’ll feel about it when I’m sprinting across Queen’s Park and realize that I’ve forgotten my water bottle at home.

Methinks we as a population are overhydrated. I can recall a time, not too long ago when purchasing water was absurd, equivalent to purchasing air. As some of you may know, I’m a vintage model. I was born before the bottled water revolution, into a world where hydration in the school place was facilitated with a water fountain. My grade school had one fountain for 150 children. My high school had four for 1800 students.

Yet I managed to get through 12 years of grade school and high school without a single disposable or reusable bottle. If we were thirsty we would wait until the end of class and then go wait in line for the fountain. It’s seems so archaic in this age of instant thirst gratification, but I can say that I never at any point came even remotely close to dying of dehydration at school.

I admit though, I too have become dependent on my water bottle. If and when I realize I’ve left my bottle at home, I have a sudden urge to find a source of water and drink as much as humanly possible to hold me over until I can find a place to buy a new bottle. My water bottle is my security blanket and it is this mad allegiance to constant hydration that has such huge implications in our lives and the environment. Yes disposable bottles are bad…we all know that, but there are also other unavoidable pitfalls to over-hydrating.

Case in point, I was at a lecture the other day where the room temperature was a stifling 27 degrees, and everyone I observed was generously indulging in their bottled water (both reusable and disposable). At the break I attempted to use the restroom and found a lineup out the door. This certain building I was in was built in 1967, before the bottled water revolution, and it shows. It was built in a time when one washroom containing two stalls was a sufficient facility for a building that saw hundreds of students at a single time.

The reality is this: we really can’t hold it anymore. If we’re not drinking water, we’re getting rid of it. Now, I’m not a scientist or a student of science for that matter, but I’m pretty sure that means we don’t need as much water as we’re drinking. This might be a radical theory, but I’m going to throw it out there. The problem isn’t the bottled water, it’s that we are drinking too much water. We are addicted to water or perhaps to possessing a water receptacle at all times.

I fully support this effort by the university, but I wish they had installed more of these new fountains before outlawing the sale of bottled water. I think we need to retrain our bodies to survive without water for at least a two-hour period. This ban on plastic water bottles will be a crash course on how not to over-hydrate. Maybe it will help us relearn how to live with out a constant portable supply of water. I’m going cold turkey tomorrow and leaving my bottle at home…I’ll let you know how it goes.

One of the newer fountains on campus. This one has a built-in bottle refilling station! It's located inside the Athletic Centre just past the turnstiles.
One of the newer fountains on campus. This one has a built-in bottle refilling station! It's located inside the Athletic Centre just past the turnstiles.

You can find a list of outlets that have banned disposable water bottle sales, as well as information on future and current locations of water fountains on campus here. Last Friday, the U of T Water Initiative held a great event in Willcocks Common,  that was all about water … a last hurrah to excessive water consumption and a goodbye to our plastic bottles.

I have a feeling that bottled juice and soft drink sales on campus will soon reach record highs. Don’t these come in plastic bottles too? Food (er, drink) for thought. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Lori

6 comments on “Thirsty???

    1. I’m with you Lori to a certain extent. I too managed to get by long before the water bottle invasion and what we all thought was absurd, but, the ban of water(bottles) was quite premature in my mind. We still sell juice, soft drinks, and power drinks, but the essential water got the boot! I buy my water at the subway stations and Union station when I remember, but I am annoyed at the restriction of something we as human need. Whether we drink too much of it or not, I don’t know, all I know is, is that when I want it I don’t want to go in search or for that matter feel like some sort of environmental criminal. Actually, I feel quite discriminated against as a human. I do not feel like “I belong” as some of the signs say around campus. It is unfortunate that a group that is supposed to be so welcoming, makes me feel the opposite. Maybe this whole water thing needs to be revisited. I, by the way, drink a lot of the stuff, and enjoy it. I could never carry the amount I need or want. I think water should be a personal choice, not a dictated one.

  1. Hey Debbie,
    I really don’t know…I was never any good at biololgy! Maybe someone out there could shed some light on the subject??

  2. Hi my name is Rhiannon Kay and I am a second year journalism student at Sheridan College in Oakville.
    I am doing an article for the Health and Wellness section of the online newspaper we have here, and it is going to be about bottled water, and how the University of Toronto has banned bottled water from the school.
    I was wondering if you could answer a few questions through email? Please reply to rhi6angel@hotmail.com

    Thanks so much,

    Rhiannon

  3. dehydration is the main cause of overeating (we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty), is cause of fatigue, and general poor moods. our body is 80% water (or close to that) so we need lots. Yes, perhaps people need to plan differently, but overhydrating? really? I’m not so sure.

  4. Thanks Sal,
    Like I said I’m not a biologist. I think this is a great point. My observations are just that, observations based on no scientific fact. Do you think the lack of available drinking water on campus will cause more students to overeat?
    Lori

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