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Reduce Single-Use Plastics (In Progress)


Bottled water has been identified by sustainability leaders as a significant source of single-use plastic waste on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Dining convenience stores and athletic facilities have been identified as primary locations for single-use bottle sales.

In an effort to inform the campus community about the harm associated with single use plastic waste, and the safety of the community’s tap water, a comprehensive plastic waste education campaign is being pursued. Reducing single-use plastic and the purchase of single-use water bottles are the primary objective of this campaign, but there are other ancillary objectives/benefits to addressing waste holistically in this campaign, such as improving awareness regarding recycling. If a single-use bottle is purchased, the aim is to ensure that it is, at a minimum, recycled.

Education and awareness have been identified as key approaches. The university sources its drinking water from the Mahomet Aquifer, and building trust around this source of water is key. Additionally, a campus-wide inventory of water bottle filling stations was completed in 2023. Providing the campus community with information about where to access the filler stations is also high priority.


Analysis from iSEE’s 2022 Drinking Water Behavior Survey elucidated key insight into students’ habits:

  • For 35% of first-year student respondents and 51% of second-year student respondents, bottled water is the primary source of drinkable water. This was particularly the case for male-identifying respondents.
  • The majority of all students who responded preferred filtered water over tap water.
  • 49% of first-year student respondents, 63% of second-year student respondents, and 47% of graduate student respondents prefer bottled water over tap water. This was particularly the case for male-identifying respondents.
  • 43% of first-year student respondents agreed that one single-use bottle of water does not yield a significant environmental impact. This was particularly the case for male-identifying respondents.
  • 56% of first-year respondents and 57% of second-year respondents agreed that there are not enough convenient places to refill a reusable water bottle on campus.

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Project Team

  • Project Leader:

    Daphne Hulse

    Team Members:

    • Shreya Mahajan
    • Sakshi Vaya
    • Dominika Szal
    • Morgan White
    • Jen Fraterrigo
    • Dave Guth

    Prior Contacts:

    • Naveen Reddy
    • Meredith Moore
    • Bart Bartels
    • Marques Burris
    • Amy Liu
    • Marika Nell
    • Teresa Tousignant
    • Illinois Student Senate Environmental Sustainability Committee


Project Location(s)

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