Funk said the current plan for phasing out plastic water bottles was “still kind of in limbo,” but the introduction of the reusable water bottle is the first step.
Budowle said about 200 water bottles were made available to students on Monday as part of a pilot program to assess the demand and effectiveness of the bottles, which will be available to the general public starting at this summer’s new freshman orientation and continuing through the fall.
“We aim to explain that students can use it for four years,” Budowle said.
Funk said by giving a bottle to every new freshman, he hopes to encourage popular use.
“The biggest thing is Tech doesn’t have a lot of recycling, so we have to find innovative ways to reduce waste,” Funk said. “The hope with giving them for free to incoming freshmen is to start a cultural shift and slowly transition out plastic bottles that a lot of us are used to using.”
Budowle said widespread use of the reusable water bottle would help cut waste significantly.
“We’re aiming to greatly reduce waste,” she said. “You could keep about 11 pounds out of the landfill.”
That number is the estimated amount of waste each student produces per four years in terms of beverage containers.
Denny Cochrane, Tech’s sustainability program manager, said that although his office was not directly involved with the launching of the bottle, it was fully in support of it.
“It’s clearly one of the issues addressed in the climate action plan,” he said. “It’s the way to the future. We can start that process of changing campus culture.”
Funk encouraged current students to purchase a bottle in the fall semester, when many would be available. Budowle estimated that the 200 ordered for the current pilot program would be sold out before the end of the week.
“Not only are you helping out recycling, it’s economically sound,” Funk said. “It saves money, it’s pretty cool looking, and it’s good quality. I have one, and I love it.”
The water bottles are currently available at Owens Dining Hall until they are all sold.