Beyond The Bottle
Beyond the Bottle was a student initiative to reduce the consumption of single-use bottled water on the Brown University campus. The initiative is supported by both Brown Dining Services and Facilities Management. Founded in 2008, the group successfully eliminated the sale of bottled water at Brown.
During the 2007-2008 academic year, before Beyond the Bottle was founded, Brown Dining Services (BDS) sold 321,500 bottled waters through its retail and catering operations. In 2014-2015, however, BDS sold 14,500 bottles—a dramatic 95% reduction in purchasing! Purchasing bottled water is environmentally destructive because bottle creation and transport is energy-intensive, bottles contribute significantly to Brown’s waste stream, and drinking out of certain plastics is an environmental health concern. Additionally, purchasing bottled water is especially unnecessary at Brown, as Providence has the second best drinking water in the country. Brown also introduced hydration stations, where students can fill up their reusable water bottles, thus providing students with a free, healthy, and sustainable alternative to buying bottled water.
In 2009, members of Beyond the Bottle reached out to BDS. As a result, educational signage was installed at two heavily trafficked campus eateries, and BDS surveyed patrons about why they purchased bottled water, how aware they were of the environmental impacts, and how receptive they were to alternatives. BDS and Beyond the Bottled then worked together to create a plan for dramatically reducing the amount of bottled water sold on campus.
In spring 2015, Beyond the Bottle (BtB) decided that it had accomplished its mission, and that the 2014-2015 school year would be its last as a student group. This is because BtB had picked all low-hanging fruit. Between 2010 and 2015, bottle usage only decreased 14%, as compared to the 84% decrease experienced 2007-2010.