By Elizabeth Haas
Skylar Vogler took a sip from the green Dixie cup in his left hand, paused, and then took a sip from the blue 3-ounce cup in his right hand.
“I can actually taste the difference,” he said, correctly pointing to which cup held Poland Spring bottled water. “The mineral content is slightly different.”
Vogler was one of over 100 students to take the tap water challenge, put on by the Student Environmental Action Coalition’s Choose 2 Reuse campaign on Tuesday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the MUB mailroom. Students were asked to sample water from two cups and decide which cup held hydration station water and which contained Poland Spring bottled water.
“A lot of people say that the reason they buy bottled water is that it tastes better,” said Gianna Tempera, the campaign’s coordinator. “We want to find out if that’s true.”
Vogler was one of the few students who based their guesses on flavor. He was also one of the 27 participants to guess correctly. His prize was a mason jar with a Cuppow lid, which turns the jar into a travel mug. Students who guessed incorrectly were given an “I choose to reuse,” penguin sticker.
“I refill plastic water bottles,” Vogler said. He said he drinks both tap and bottled water, but prefers to get it from the hydration station.
Sophomore theater major Rebekah Londoff, like most participants, based her decision on temperature.
“The hydration station is usually colder,” she said. “I didn’t notice much of a difference in taste.”
Londoff was the first to sign the petition to eliminate the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus, which is the campaign’s main goal.
“I don’t like to spend money on something I can get for free,” she said. “There are plenty of hydration stations around campus so it’s easy to do.”
UNH has a contract with Coca Cola for all beverages sold on campus, including the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. In June 2016, the contract will be renewed for the next five years. According to Tempera, UNH dining administrators are reviewing the contract this semester to determine if it should be changed. The Choose 2 Reuse campaign is asking for dining services to remove the sale of bottled water from the contract.
The campaign approached dining last semester after gathering 600 signatures.
Tempera said dining services was willing to work with the campaign but told the campaign that it doesn’t want to stop selling water all together, wanting Choose 2 Reuse to reduce the student demand for bottled water first.
By the end of last semester, 1,000 students had signed the petition, and Tempera said that they would like 4,000 more signatures before they submit their final request. Thirty-five students signed the petition Tuesday.
“We’re working on recruitment right now,” Tempera said. “There’s only three of us right now, and it’s a big campaign.”
To recruit, the campaign held a special new members meeting from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday in MUB 139. They continue to meet there from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday for the rest of the semester.
“Tap water is more regulated,” Tempera said. “It’s better for you.”