The History of Bottled Water: It’s “Special Water”

So now that we all know what it is, why is Team Green focusing on Take Back the Tap?  And why now?

Even though we’re only rolling out Take Back the Tap now, there are years of precedent for this program.  In fact, America’s been selling bottled water since before it was actually America (pre-Declaration of Independence), so we’re talking a lot of precedent here.  The original bottled water was surrounded by superstition– it came from a spa that advertised “special water” (those quotes are real, by the way, “special water”) for people to drink and bathe in.  It doesn’t take a chemistry major to know that water is water, but the mystical appeal got people to buy it, even though it was more expensive than other, equally clean and pure, water.  Soon water labeled as mineral or spring water (now with 100% more magical properties!) was being sold in America, and an industry was born.


Unfortunately, it was superstition then and it’s superstition now; we’ll be talking about the regulations on bottled water vs. tap water in the coming days, as well as the taste of each.  We’ll also be talking about how much declining you spend every time you buy a water bottle and just why it costs that much, how water bottles are transported from continent to continent to end up in your backpack (and then a campus recycling bin, because I know you wouldn’t even think of throwing that thing away, now, would you?), and the environmental impact of all that plastic.

Team Green’s interest in water bottles doesn’t quite go back to 18th century America, but it does cover a couple of years.  Initially a move was made to ban the sale of disposable water bottles on campus, but discussion with students showed that this wasn’t the best choice at the time.  Dining Services listened to what students wanted and kept disposable water bottles on campus.  Now, Team Green is trying to do something even better– educate students on just what goes into that plastic bottle.  Hopefully instead of having fewer choices, students will make better choices with just as many options in place.


Author: Charlotte Humes

Take Back the Tap 2014

For those of you on the University of Rochester campus, you’re about to see a lot of “Take Back the Tap” (consider yourself warned).  But what exactly is this super mysterious, highly complex initiative?  Take Back the Tap is a Team Green educational campaign, running throughout this semester, that aims to educate University of Rochester students about disposable water bottles.  Okay, so maybe it isn’t that mysterious.  Or complex.

Take Back the Tap (TBtT), in addition to educating students on disposable bottles, is meant to help students think about their choices as consumers.  Do I buy whatever products my parents bought, simply because I grew up with them?  Do I only buy whatever’s most convenient as I run from class to club meetings to work shifts?  Do I know the environmental or social impact of what I buy, and, more importantly, do I care?  They’re all good questions, and ones I unfortunately don’t ask myself nearly enough.

Before you point out that we’re biased: yes, we’re biased.  We are Team Green after all; that’s “green” as in “hippie environmentalists”, not “green” as in “light with a wavelength of approximately 530 nm”.  But TBtT is meant to present unbiased information, in the hopes that this will help students draw their own conclusions.  Each month, TBtT will handle a new topic, which will be explained with a video or an infographic, sometimes both.  If you disagree with anything presented, you’d like to make a counterpoint, or just want contribute to the discussion, then by all means tell us about it as a blog comment or via email, at .

And at some point there’s going to be crafts (ooh, aaah, crafts) so you should totally come check that out too.


tl;dr: check out the flyer, because we all know that’s more fun than reading.

1-20-14 what is TBtT edit purple


Author: Charlotte Humes

Happy New Year!

Hey, guys!

I’m excited for a new semester here at the good ol’ U of R, and I hope y’all are too.  I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I’m quite ready for 2014– none of my favorite NFL teams made it to the playoffs, every year I inherit more scary adult things to worry about (student loans, anyone?), and I’m going to accidentally write “2013” on my assignments until about mid-December.  Thankfully, unlike this slacker, Team Green is ready for the new year and we have a number of exciting things planned!

We’re currently making a video about composting, to help show students how UR handles food waste.  We’ll be hiring (exciting news, guys!!! updates will be posted here soon).  We’re formally launching our “Take Back the Tap” campaign to promote use of reusable water bottles.  Meatless Mondays are back next week, and we’re making good use of the feedback we received last semester (get pumped for more vegan desserts and made-on-the-spot vegetarian sushi).  We’re sponsoring the campus wide RecycleMania during the “Get Creative” week.   Local Foods Week will be the glorious celebration of delicious and sustainable produce that we all know and love.

We’ve certainly got a lot on our plate this semester.  (Get it?  Plate?  …Sorry, it wasn’t that funny.)

As always, this work is made possible by the support of Cam Schauf, the head of Dining and Auxiliary Services, the Marketing Manager Kevin Aubrey, the Campus Nutritionist Christina Patterson, and the many other wonderful chefs and dining workers (who also make sure we get to, you know, eat).  So remember to say thanks next time you’re in line to snag a burrito from the Pit or a made-to-order omelet at brunch!

Good luck with the new semester!


Author: Charlotte Humes