In addition to putting on their caps and gowns, Keene State College’s Eco Reps hope seniors will pick up a reusable water bottle before heading to graduation next month. The Eco Reps have proposed to reduce the volume of disposable water bottles used on campus by at least half. “We seek to eliminate the practice of placing a disposable plastic water bottle under each graduate’s seat,” the Reps said in their official proposal statement.

As an alternative, the Reps plan to have barrels of chilled water available on an as-needed basis. The student Eco Reps will serve as water stewards to distribute the water, according to their proposal. Sodexo will provide water stations for students to refill their water bottles as needed, as well as a concession stand for beverages and food, according to the Reps.

“This is necessary to help us move toward creating a greener graduation,” Eco Rep Advisor Cary Gaunt said. “KSC cares deeply about our communities — certainly the campus community of students, faculty and staff, but also the broader human and ecological communities where we live, work, study and play,” Gaunt said.

The Reps said disposable plastic water bottles conflict with KSC’s commitment to sustainability under the [KSC’s] American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) for carbon-neutrality. The Reps of this proposal also made the case that most bottled water sources “are filtered tap water drawn from municipal water sources located in drought-stricken areas.” These products include Pepsi and Aquafina, both sold at KSC. “Buying water is so much more expensive than what comes free from the tap,” Gaunt said.

George Amaru/Art director

George Amaru/Art director

Throughout the semester, the Reps have been collecting signatures from KSC students and pledges from seniors to show [the Eco Reps] have support from the student body to ban the plastic bottle at commencement. According to Eco Rep Victoria Drake, the Reps have approximately 390 signatures. “[Gaunt] has met with people on campus including President Huot, but we just have to keep pushing for more meetings,” Drake said.

Senior Sam Magee said she’s on board with banning the bottle at commencement. “It would be pretty cool to get rid of plastic,” she said. “Everyone should be using reusable water bottles.” Magee said her only concern would be refilling a reusable water bottle during the ceremony. “I guess if [students] bring a full bottle of water, [they’ll] be fine,” she said.

Gaunt expressed that this project not only eliminates plastic on campus, but it also saves the college money. According to their proposal, the Commencement Team spent $1,900 on disposable plastic water bottles last year and only ten percent were consumed in entirety. “Almost $1,700 of the $1,900 investment was lost,” the proposal said.

The Reps said they hope to gain support from graduates, as well as the campus community in order to create a greener campus.

MacKenzie Clarke can be contacted at

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