Green Your Thirst: Campaign to Ban Bottled Water on College Campuses

Ian Somerhalder Foundation


Check out our Green Your Thirst Toolkit!

And follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter!


What's the problem with bottled water?

The History

Can you remember a time in your life when bottled water was not everywhere you looked? If you are a college-aged person, it is likely that you do not. If you can believe it, bottled water as we know it today really did not take off in popularity until the mid-late 1990’s.

In truth, water has been stored in bottles for centuries. However, as can be seen in the Bottled Water Timeline from St. John’s University, bottled water has gradually evolved over time. Decades ago, people stored and transported their water in reusable containers. Glass bottled water was rare and didn’t become popular until the 70’s. The invent of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for the production of soda bottles in the late 60’s gradually led the way to production of mineral water and carbonated water.  The mass manufacturing of water in plastic bottles began in the mid 90’s with the production of a purified tap water called Aquafina in Wichita, Kansas. From there, bottled water sales began to soar.

When the first plastic water bottles hit the market, people everywhere thought they were a brilliant invention! They were a convenient, refreshing, disposable, and healthy alternative to soda. Now, over 20 years later, at a time when millions of us are learning more about how human behavior has affected the health of our planet, we are beginning to consider whether we jumped on the bottled water band wagon too soon. Millions of us are jumping off that wagon, and you know what? We’re doing just fine without it!

The Present

Bottled water is a top selling product for companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Nestle. According to the article, U.S. Bottled Water Sales Are Booming (Again) Despite Opposition, sales of bottled water are not slowing down. The world is fully immersed in the "bottled water culture."

At ISF we are also undergoing an evolution as we realize that while manufactured bottled water may be convenient, it is completely unnecessary in most situations. We humans are creatures of habit. We have become dependent upon an unnecessary expensive product that has a negative impact on our environment. We do need clean water to survive. We don’t need bottled water to survive, unless our tap water is harmful to drink. Many of us have become accustomed to someone handing us what we need just when we need it rather than force ourselves to think ahead and come prepared. We need to change our habits. Research the tap water quality where you live. If you’re in the U.S., check out the Environmental Protection Agency website on water quality. Use water filtration devices and reusable bottles. Install hydration stations, or refilling stations, in your businesses and college campuses.

The Campaign

The ISF College Program strives to empower young adults to take a stand on global issues through education and collaboration, helping them to become a force for positive change.

We are enlisting you to join our campaign to ban the sale of bottled water on college campuses. As you read through the information we have provided in our Green Your Thirst Toolkit, you’ll find that many students have already succeeded in this mission! It is not an easy task to change the behavior of an individual, let alone an entire university. We’ve done our best to provide you with information to educate and motivate your student body and administration to make this change. While the goal is to ban the sale of bottled water, remember that even if your university will not ban bottled water, you can still succeed by educating and empowering individuals to make more ecological and responsible choices and campaign for the use of reusable bottles and refilling stations on campus.

Is the plastic from bottled water the only material polluting our planet? No. Would it make a significant difference in reducing pollution and the amount of resources used if those of us who truly don’t need it would stop purchasing and disposing of over 200 plastic water bottles per person every year? We think, YES, absolutely! 

Please read through the Green Your Thirst Toolkit and watch the video below. If you are ready to join our mission and start a campaign in your university, or if you have questions and need guidance, email us at with the Subject line "Green Your Thirst."

Video: The Story of Bottled Water