I read with interest the column by Brandon University student Natalie Bohrn — The Bohrn Identity— that appeared in the April 13 edition of the Brandon Sun entitled “Sugary drinks don’t always taste sweet.”
While Ms. Bohrn is to be commended for her concerns about environmental sustainability and healthy living, the foundation of her views about banning the sale of bottled water and other bottled beverages on campus is founded on a fiction about both.
There isn’t a single item in her university’s cafeteria that features either the carbon footprint or health benefits that bottled water does, yet it is no longer sold there. The Canadian beverage industry has supplied, at its cost, Recycle Everywhere bin infrastructure across the campus and, in fact, throughout the municipality to collect beverage containers in public spaces. Non-alcoholic beverage containers have the highest recycling rate of any recyclable item sold in Brandon.
Now other bottled beverages are on Ms. Bohrn’s radar, even though subject matter experts like Dr. Barry Popkin, one of the world’s foremost authorities on dietary intake and obesity, recommends moderation over elimination of caloric beverages. No mention is made by Ms. Bohrn of sweetened juices, specialty coffees or dairy products — all of which contain more calories than the beverages she has cited.
None of these beverages contain as many calories as campus favourites like hamburgers, pizza or french fries. Their carbon footprints are higher than bottled beverages and their packaging typically isn’t recyclable or can’t be recycled when it is contaminated by food waste — all of which is not to suggest that any of these items be banned from sale.
Every one of these foods and beverages is either provincially or federally regulated. In moderation, all of these foods and beverages contribute to healthy living.
All banning does is force students and staff to go off-campus to buy what they want. As has been proven at the cities of Toronto and Niagara Falls when bottled water bans were enacted there, the municipal cafeteria suffered financially for it. Their customers were inconvenienced but no more healthy, environmentally or otherwise.
Brandon University students and staff have a fundamental right to choose the legal, federally regulated beverage of their choice. All they need is regular public education about what constitutes the best food and beverage choices to make each day — and why.
John B. Challinor
Director of corporate affairs
Nestlé Waters Canada
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 16, 2013