Scarborough high schools have begun an anti-water bottle campaign this month.
Water should be a basic human right, said local high school students, and not just for those who can afford bottled water.
Three Scarborough Catholic high schools, including Pope John Paul and Blessed Mary Teresa, plan to create “bottle water free-zones” in their cafeteria, ending the selling of water in vending machines and promoting the use of drinking fountains instead.
“It will be like having no baseball caps worn at schools, there will be no water bottles at school,” said Nicole Scarlet Costa, a grade 12 student from Pope John Paul II Secondary School.
“The students were really engaged and excited about what we were teaching them,’ said Luke Stocking, executive director for Development and Peace.
He says the point of the seminar was not necessarily teaching students to be against water bottles, but turning water into a commodity.
“We live in a culture that thinks its normal to pay for our drinking water and purchase it from vending machines, as opposed to having access to safe, clean, free water coming out of our taps,” he said.
Critics argue that this is an issue that not only affects Canadians, but also people abroad.
“There are communities in Indonesia that are being denied access to spring water because bottled water companies like Coca-Cola are buying up their streams,” Stocking said.
But there is a growing movement across Canada against bottled water and sales are starting to decline, according to Derek Forgie, speaker for the Polaris Institute’s Bottled Water Free campaign.
“When it comes to bottled water, it’s an accessible issue for everyone, that’s why I think it’s picking up steam,” Forgie said.
For now, many students continue to drink water from plastic bottles. But some of the students at Pope and other Catholic high schools are working to change that in the coming year.
“We grew up thinking that drinking from water bottles everyday was normal,” Costa said. “If we encourage a transition now, then the next group of young people will grow up differently, bottle water free.”