Green Team, Sustainability Office Help Promote Plastic Water Bottle-Free Campus

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Wesleyan employees, from left, Jayana Mitchell, Anika Dane, Dawn Alger, Valerie Marinelli, Bill Nelligan, Jen Kleindienst, Anita Deeg-Carlin, Blanche Meslin and Roslyn Carrier-Brault, helped coordinate the installation of a new water filtering system in Woodhead Lounge. The water system eliminates the need to have bottled water provided at meetings held in the popular campus event space. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Dawn Alger, administrative assistant in the Theater Department, uses the new water filter. The system has an on/off switch in the rear to help save electricity when not in use.

Dawn Alger, administrative assistant in the Theater Department, uses the new water filter. The system has an on/off switch in the rear to help save electricity when not in use.

When Blanche Meslin, administrative assistant in the Biology Department, noticed that the weekly NSM luncheon held in Woodhead Lounge provided faculty with water in plastic bottles, she wanted to take action.

As a member of Wesleyan’s new Green Team, made up of Wesleyan staff members with an interest creating a sustainable campus, Meslin and fellow team members worked with Wesleyan’s Sustainability Office for a more eco-friendly solution. As a result, a new Oasis-brand water filtering system was installed Jan. 6 inside the popular campus meeting room.

“Now our hope is that other event coordinators will get the Oasis coolers installed in their meeting spaces so that we no longer see water bottles on campus at all,” Meslin said.

The new system taps into the water supply from a neighboring kitchenette and provides filtered cold and hot water.

Bill Nelligan, director of environmental services and Jen Kleindienst, sustainability coordinator, have coordinated the installation of more than 90 bottle filling locations in offices and public spaces on campus. Eighty-five are free-standing models, like the one in Woodhead Lounge.

“It’s all part of Wesleyan’s anti-plastic water bottle campaign,” Nelligan said. “We’ve gone from spending hundreds of dollars a year on bottled water to spending only $50 a year to maintain these new water filters.”

Each unit has an on and off switch in the rear. When off, Kleindienst says there is a considerable energy savings.

“Assuming the hot water is left on, a traditional water fountain with chilling uses 0.31 kWh/day, while an Oasis cooler uses 1.5-2 kWh/day of energy,” she said.

Wesleyan’s countertop models use 3.7 kWh/day when the hot water is left on, and 1.1 kWh/day when the hot water is off.

Members of the Green Team cite the documentary “Tapped” as having helped them understand the serious problems caused by the bottled water industry.  The College of the Environment plans to screen this movie during Earth Month.

If you have a suggestion for the Green Team, or wish to join, contact Anita Deeg-Carlin, administrative assistant in physics, at adeegcarlin@wesleyan.edu.