Appalachian student’s campaign works to ban plastic water bottles on campus

Stephanie Sansoucy

An Appalachian State University student has started the ASU Think Outside the Bottle Campaign to ban plastic water bottles on campus.

Katelynn Mudgett, a sophomore sustainable development major, started the campaign through the Sustainable Development Student Alliance, which allows students to bring their own sustainable project ideas to the table and make them happen.

The overall goal of the ASU Think Outside the Bottle Campaign is for Appalachian to go free of bottled water, specifically bottles such as Aquafina, Fiji and the Appalachian branded bottled water, Mudgett said.

“We are trying to focus on creating student awareness of the issue and gain student support through events such as documentaries and petition signing to show the university that a majority of students want this to happen,” Mudgett said.

The campaign officially started Oct. 9 when Mudgett gathered a few people to help get ready for the National Day of Action with Corporate Accountability’s Think Outside the Bottle Campaign.

Corporate Accountability is a non-profit organization that protects human rights, public health and the environment by waging and winning campaigns that challenge the abuses of some of the world’s most powerful corporations, according to its website,

“Part of their [Corporate Accountability] campaign is set up to support students who want their schools to go bottled water free,” Mudgett said. “I have a person that I Skype with once a week to help support the campaign on campus.”

Mudgett said she became interested in the idea after learning about bottled water’s harmful effects on the earth.

“I had already learned a great deal about how the bottles are harmful to the earth and had recently discovered that buying bottled water also supports the larger issue of global water privatization where water has become a commodity to be bought and sold,” she said.

Mudgett said she was also angered by the Appalachian branded bottled water, which she said is bottled spring water from 16 minutes away in Deep Gap.

“Selling water back to us is ridiculous and means that Appalachian is paying to have the water put in plastic bottles that are made of oil, which may or may not get recycled,” Mudgett said.

Mudgett said she conducted research to see if any other universities in the United States were banning bottled water and found that many were, including Western Washington University, the largest public university to do so.

The plan is for Appalachian to provide plenty of reusable bottles for students to purchase and have more water bottle filling stations to make it easier to refill, she said.

The campaign has been working with International Justice Mission and the sustainability committee of the Student Government Association to bring awareness to the issue.

“We want to work with the campaign and do as much as we can to help their cause,” said Carson Rich, SGA director of sustainability. “We are obviously trying to cut down on the amount of plastic water bottles on campus and encourage students to use refillable bottles more.”

The ASU Think Outside the Bottle Campaign meets every Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m. in Edwin Duncan Hall, Room 317.

A film screening of “TAPPED,” a documentary about bottled water in the U.S., will take place Nov. 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. in Belk Library, Room 114 as well.

“Recycling a plastic water bottle is better than throwing it away, but in the end, it is not ‘good enough,'” Mudgett said. “As Appalachian students, one way we can take action against water privatization where it has become a commodity like running shoes or a car, is having Appalachian go bottled water free.”

Story: GERRIT VAN GENDEREN, News Reporter