Take Back the Tap awarded $1,500, funds to educate campus about sustainability

Take Back The Tap celebrates their Tap-a-Palooza victory with a pizza party on Nov. 14 in Anspach Hall.

After winning "Tap-A-Palooza," registered student organization Take Back the Tap plans to pay it forward with its $1,500 in award money. 

"Tap-A-Palooza" is a nationwide competition held through the month of October, hosted by the non-profit Food and Water Watch. During the competition, students can text-in "pledges" to stop using single-use water bottles. The winning school receives $1,500 in prize money to improve its water infrastructure.

Central Michigan University won among the nearly 20 schools with 1,038 overall pledges. The second runner-up was the College of William and Mary in Virginia, with around 750 pledges. 

“It’s really nice to see that all of our dedication was worth it,” said TBTT president Allison LaPlatt. 

TBTT aims to use the award money to promote sustainable drinking habits by putting up posters near drinking fountains.

While the group would love to see more water-bottle filling stations installed in campus buildings, LaPlatt said, the cost of installing just one would use all of the award money. Instead, they want to spread out the funds and use it to educate students about sustainability.  

The organization is currently in the planning stages of what to do with the awarded money. 

“As much as having refill stations matters, it is more important to understand why we are choosing refill stations,” LaPlatt said. 

LaPlatt and other e-board members have been working with Jay Kahn, director of Facilities Management, and CMU's sustainability assistant, Lakeport junior Chase Delor, to put informational posters around fill stations and vending machines on campus.  

Delor was hired by Kahn before Spring 2017, filling a graduate job position as an undergraduate. 

His job as sustainability assistant makes him the liaison for the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

Delor's responsibility is to make sure all of CMU's sustainability efforts are documented and recognized. 

Delor said CMU ranks in the middle of STARS, a program, with a silver rating that was given to CMU in April. 

There are two standards above silver — gold and platinum. However, only three schools in the world have a platinum rating: Colorado State University, Stanford University and the University of New Hampshire. 

CMU ranks lowest among the five rated Michigan schools: Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan. 

However, CMU only needs 13.82 more points to earn a gold standard. Points can be earned through student education programs, research and campus engagement. 

“An area CMU could see some serious improvement in is engagement, both campus and public,” Delor said.  “We're lagging behind the others, but people like Allison are a big help here.”

Putting up informational posters could help boost CMU's rating under campus engagement, although it won't directly earn the school points under the STARS program. 

The next step for TBTT members is to design the informational posters, get approval from Facilities Management and put them up. 

The group has also been in contact with Annie Thrush of Contracting and Purchasing Services, and other faculty members in Campus Dining, to build administrative support for the cause. Their goal is to stop the sales of single use plastic water bottles on campus. 

At the same time, TBTT has worked with Campus Dining to push the sales of reusable water bottles. 

Before last semester, the CMU Bookstore was the only campus location that sold reusable water bottles. Now, Hydro Flask water bottles, a brand TBTT helped pick out, are being sold in The Market, located in Woldt Hall.