World Water Day at FSU Poured Down the Facts

TBTT table

This past Thursday, March 22, was World Water Day, an annual observance day created by the United Nations to highlight the importance of water. The day is observed by people and organizations worldwide, including UN member states.

Florida State University students participated in this ritual for the fifth time this year. FSU’s World Water Day event was put on by Take Back the Tap (TBTT).

TBTT is a national campaign put on by the Food and Water Watch, a non-governmental organization that focuses on corporate as well as government accountability when it comes to food and water. The FSU campaign is housed under Sustainable Campus and aims to transform FSU into a “bottled water free campus.”

The event featured different games that focused on environmental issues as well as visiting organizations centered around environmentalism.

City of Tallahassee Utilities brought out their famous “Water Wagon,” a municipality-owned vehicle hydration station that serves at many city-sponsored events. The water wagon allows people to refill water bottles at local events as opposed to purchasing plastic water bottles from vendors. The presence of the water wagon at World Water Day at FSU allowed attendees to sample Tallahassee’s tap water, which was declared the best drinking water in Florida at the 2015 Florida Water Resources Conference. In addition to promoting Tallahassee water, the water wagon was also distributing reusable City of Tallahassee water bottles.

In addition, the event featured two game stations that tested attendee’s knowledge of conservation and environmentalism.

Allison Perez is a junior at FSU majoring in Environmental Science. She was overseeing the recycling game at the World Water Day event and commented on the way in which recycling and water conservation intertwine.

“Recycling ties into World Water Day because it just helps make the world, as cheesy as it sounds, a better place,” Perez said. “We’re really contributing to making the world cleaner and better. Recycling is such a simple task that people just don’t think about and it’s a simple lifestyle change that people can be more aware of.”

The most shocking recycling fact discovered by students throughout the day was that straws are unrecyclable due to their weak fibers.

“We’re informing them and that’s what it’s all about, just being more aware about the way that we affect our world that we live in,” Perez said. 

A Seminole Dining representative was there to promote meatless food options on campus as well as a new “Meatless Monday” incentive. Certain restaurants on campus are providing discounts ($1 off meal) for students who choose to participate in Meatless Mondays, a global movement which promotes cutting out meat at least once a week. 

The Surfrider Foundation was also in attendance. Surfrider is dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Surfrider began as a fight to protect a surf spot in Malibu and has evolved into one of the largest coastal conservation networks. They have a Tallahassee chapter that represents their national community.

St. Francis Wildlife also made an appearance and brought a very special guest: Smoky, the grey corn snake. The presence of St. Francis Wildlife volunteers and Smoky illustrated the universal need for water by both humans and animals.

World Water Day is more important than ever for places like Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town faces the ultimatum of shutting off their water to four million residents by summertime and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch now measured at three times the size of France.

TBTT coordinator, Jackson Oberlink, is a sophomore at FSU majoring in Environmental Science and Policy. He explained World Water Day's significance.

“It’s important to me personally because I grew up near the Indian River Lagoon in Vero Beach and I’ve watched plastic pollution take over our beaches,” he said. “I was just home recently and there was a storm and afterwards the beach was littered with micro plastics. So, I’ve really seen it take a hold of the places that I value and the place where I grew up.”

The personal value of conservation that Oberlink carries with him is an echo of resolution to the global problem of pollution that our society currently faces.

“It’s important in general because, I mean, the world has a plastic problem,” Oberlink said. “We use so much plastic its insane. If you go into a grocery store, I think at least half of the products use plastic of some kind. So, we just need to be finding safer alternatives and one of the simplest ways that you can do that is by using reusable water bottles.”

Oberlink also emphasized that plastic water bottles have a high price financially as well as environmentally.

“You are paying sometimes over 2000 times the price that you would for tap water when you buy a plastic water bottle.” He said. “A lot of times if you fill up an eight-ounce glass of water it’s .01 cents. And you’re paying $2 to $3 for a bottle of water. The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] regulates plastic bottled water’s qualities, and a lot of times it’s just tap water anyways. Plastic water bottles are also even further unregulated than tap water.”

TBTT received over 300 pledges to stop using plastic water bottles at the World Water Day event.

Currently, there are more than 85 hydration stations on campus and TBTT is trying to get funding to make more. They are also working on an arrangement with the Union where any water bottles left in Lost and Found for over thirty days may be given to TBTT, cleaned and distributed at events. On top of that, TBTT is trying to get the university to fund reusable water bottles to give out at campus tours/orientations as opposed to the plastic bottles that visitors currently receive when on campus.

FSU registered student organizations (RSOs) also have an opportunity to become “Take Back the Tap” certified. This entails that RSOs commit to not using plastic water bottles at any of their events. TBTT will assist these RSOs by providing sustainable sources of water.