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Reusable bottle campaign aims to reduce waste on campus

Bringing reusable water bottles reduces plastic waste. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The Office of Sustainability wrapped up its two-week campaign to encourage students to use reusable water bottles . | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The #UHBYOBottle competition, hosted by the Office of Sustainability, ended its two-week campaign, encouraging students to use reusable water bottles.

With a total of seven participants, the “Bring Your Own Bottle” competition ran from Jan. 13-24, aiming for students to bring their water bottles and use the University’s water filling stations, then posting a photo on social media with the hashtag #UHBYOBottle and tagging @UHSustain.

The Office of Sustainability’s goal is to educate students about sustainability and using the world’s resources responsibly. The #UHBYOBottle contest was a response to the installation of over 100 water bottle filling stations, one of the more recent initiatives the office has taken.

“Earlier in the development of it, we were installing these water bottle stations,” said sustainability manager at the Office of Sustainability Michael Mendoza. “As we’re putting infrastructure on campus, it made sense for us to develop a contest or incentive to get students to use this infrastructure and it has an impact on the waste reduction on campus.”

The Student Center was the first office on campus to earn gold status of the Green Office Certification, saving over 250,000 plastic bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans. Encouraging the use of reusable water bottles with the filling station prevents the need for single-use water bottles.

“The challenge of plastic is difficult to breakdown through natural process and some don’t break down,” Mendoza said. “By reducing our demand for these types of products, it then reduces the amount of plastics in waste streams and landfills and the environment in general. As for the ecosystem, plastic is just a strain on natural processes.”

Business sophomore Nhi Nguyen participated in the competition and takes conserving the environment seriously in their personal life.

“Upon just my reusable bottle, I have a metal straw that I bought,” Nguyen said. “So, I try to carry that around when I go out to eat. I also turn off the lights when I’m not using them and try not to use too much water.”

Nguyen saw the information for the competition in an email the University sent out, but this is her first semester to participate in the campaign.

The competition’s prize is different each semester, usually having to do with sustainable living. The winners will be notified within a week of the campaign ending for information about the prize.

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