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News at Fort Lewis College

Student launches campaign to bust bottles on campus

Environmental Studies senior Lisa Mullins shows off a reusable metal water bottle.

If Lisa Mullins' vision comes true, you soon won't see bottled water on the Fort Lewis campus.

And if Lisa Mullins' vision comes true, it will be because she made it happen.

The Senior Environmental Studies major, from Durango, grew a campus-wide anti-bottled-water campaign from a class project by finding it a home in the Fort Lewis Environmental Center after the class ended, and funding the campaign after guiding it through administrative processes.

"I would like to see more students being aware enough to not purchase bottled water," says Mullins. "Campus-wide, we'd like to see a bottled-water-free campus. That would be a huge step forward for Fort Lewis College toward sustainability. But it has to come from students by their stopping buying it."

"Bottle Busters," the education and awareness campaign Mullins created in Sociology Professor Mark Seis' Fall 2010 Environmental Studies Colloquium, has been adopted by the EC's Zero-Waste Team. And along with the project came Mullins herself -- she now coordinates the Team.

The Zero-Waste Team works to ensure that the College buys recyclable products and keeps waste out of the landfill through recycling and composting. The Team also runs a weekly Free Store, does food and waste audits on campus, and manages an experimental worm composter.

Thanks to a grant from the College's Sustainability Fee -- which Mullins secured with a visit to the President and a proposal to the Associated Students of Fort Lewis College -- the Environmental Center debuted the campaign in April with a showing of "Tapped," a documentary examining the effects of the bottled-water industry on public health and water supplies. The EC also gave away metal water bottles to the first 100 moviegoers.

The campaign will continue in August, when the [Office of Student Affairs] will make the bottled-water issue a theme at Orientation by showing "Tapped" and holding a panel discussion with EC members about local water quality, and encouraging students to carry reusable water bottles rather than buying water.

To help that conversion, incoming freshmen at Orientation, along with their parents and families attending Family Orientation, will receive metal water bottles emblazoned with the College's Centennial logo. Sodexo, the College's food services manager, will also help by installing bottle-filling stations for Orientation attendees.

Not only is it good for the planet, but it's also to the College's advantage to encourage awareness about issues associated with bottled water, says Mullins. "It helps Fort Lewis College move forward in their sustainability initiatives. And we're setting a positive environmental image for the community of Durango as well as other colleges."

Mullins also says that there have been unexpected advantages for herself, as well, in following her project through to fruition.

"I've learned that you can really do anything you put your mind to," she explains. "Even as a student you have a lot say and a lot of power. And if you can get other people involved, then you can show them that they, too, can make a difference."

Tapped movie

Environmental Center website

EC blog

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