UW-Eau Claire switches over to aluminum water cans in sustainability efforts

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 6:40 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - When UW-Eau Claire students go to the Davies Building dining hall they will notice a change when they grab a water.

“We’re going to have metal water bottles instead of plastic water bottles,” said Lily Strehlow, the university’s sustainability coordinator.

She said the switch of Dasini water bottles offered at the dining hall is small, but should come with big impacts in accordance to sustainability efforts.

“Metal is recycled at a higher rate than plastics. Students are more familiar with the idea that cans go in the recycling, so that should reduce our waste stream going to the landfill,” said Strehlow. “There are still some plastic water bottles on campus, but we’re really excited about this change. There are other bottles we’re looking into that have resealable lids.”

“But as an educator, what I’m excited about is the fact that we can now use this decision as a living laboratory and using the campus as a living laboratory,” said Dr. James Boulter, the chair of the Public Health and Environmental Studies department.

He teaches a course on sustainability for every day life and said it is important to turn the theoretical to the practical.

“Students want to learn this, this, this material. They want to know how to make a difference. They expect their university and their institutions to become more sustainable. And so we’re really providing them the tools to do that,” said Dr. Boulter.

“It also helps create a culture of sustainability on campus. Our students can see that we care about the environment, that we want them to use material that is more likely to be reused and recycled,” said Strehlow.

She said there is a system in the works that will look at how operations and materials on campus are sustainable as well.

Dr. Boulter said his students from the sustainability class will collect data on the use of the aluminum cans to determines the impacts of the switch.

From there, it will be decided by officials on whether or not to continue the aluminum can initiative.