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Beyond the Bottle

Cutting Waste at Brown Dining

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  • Recycling
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Beyond the BottleBeyond the BottleBeyond the Bottle

92% Fewer Bottled Waters on Campus in 5 Years

Beyond the Bottle is a student initiative to reduce the consumption of single-use bottled water on the Brown campus, and is supported by Brown Dining. In the 2007-08 academic year, before Beyond the Bottle began, Brown Dining sold 321,500 bottled waters through our retail and catering operations. Five years later, during the 2011-12 year, we have reduced that amount to 25,200 bottles. And we're still working on it!
Beyond the Bottle

How Beyond the Bottle started

In late 2008, a "Beyond the Bottle" student group identified the high sales volume of bottled water in Brown Dining eateries as an obstacle to Brown's campus sustainability efforts. The students reached out to us and in the spring of 2009, educational signage was put up in Josiah's and the Ivy Room to test the effect on bottled water sales. We also surveyed our customers to better understand why our customers purchased these bottles, how aware they were of the environmental impacts and how receptive they were to alternatives. 399 students, staff and faculty responded. Here is a snapshot of some ideas from the survey:
Concerns about single-use bottled water
  • Energy waste to truck water from faraway, when Providence taps are rated #2 in the country
  • Plastic waste, given the low recycling rate especially for bottled water
  • Expensive
  • Health concerns about single-use plastics
Concerns about eliminating bottled water
  • Convenience
  • What happens when customers forget their reusable water bottles?
  • Will customers turn to soda instead?
Using the results of the survey, we formed a plan with the Beyond the Bottle group in fall 2009 to make dramatic reductions to the volume of bottled water we sell in our retail and catering operations. We were concerned about the effect of reduced sales of a popular product on our budget during a challenging economic time, but we believe that these reductions are an important step toward sustainability and important to our customers.

Changes you'll be seeing around campus

Here are the changes we are making:
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