AniMent educates

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Professor Julie Andrzejewski (left) and graduate student Shaun Phillips with a sculpture of discarded water bottles.

Professor Julie Andrzejewski (left) and graduate student Shaun Phillips with a sculpture of discarded water bottles.

Professor Julie Andrzejewski (left) and graduate student Shaun Phillips with a sculpture of discarded water bottles. Photo of Shaun Phillips, social responsibility graduate student from Melbourne, Australia Photo of President Earl H. Potter III visiting with students at Celebrating Connection 

Student organization AniMent made a big splash at the Nov. 18 Celebrating Connection event in Atwood Memorial Center.

The five-year-old organization's sculpture of 1,000-plus discarded water bottles made a strong statement, drawing a steady stream of visitor traffic.

The sculpture contains about the same number of plastic water bottles bought in the United States each second. According to one estimate: 85 percent of those bottles are discarded while only 15 percent are recycled, said Shaun Phillips, AniMent president.

Celebrating Connection showcases student and community collaborations. It is sponsored by Volunteer Connection and Career Services Center and managed by the Service-Learning Advisory Committee.

The water-bottle sculpture, which took four members 11 hours to develop, speaks to how the bottled-water industry worldwide misuses environmental resources, according to Phillips.

Bottled water reduces water levels in aquifers, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, diverting a critical resources away from animals and plants. It also reduces the availability of free water to people in developing nations, Phillips said.

"Water should not be a commodity," said Phillips, a graduate student in the Master's In Social Responsibility Program." It should not be privatized. It should be for the common good."

Phillips hails from Australia, which has a history of water scarcity. The town of Bundanoon, which is believed to be the first entity to outlaw bottled water, is in the New South Wales, which adjoins Phillips' home state of Victoria.

"The unnecessary bottling and transportation the water involves what can be a considered a waste of oil in the creation of the bottles as well as land and air transport, the unnecessary emission of carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change, and the displacement of large amounts of water from ecosystems that disrupts the hydrological cycle of those areas," Phillips said.

Less than 1 percent of the world's fresh water is drinkable, according to Julie Andrzejewski, the AniMent faculty advisor.

As freshwater supplies dwindle, the need to restore the environment becomes ever more urgent, Andrzejewski said. Water-reclamation and desalinization plants are expensive alternatives to simply helping nature do its job, she said.

"The more you restore the environment, the more you reclaim water," Andrzejewski said.

"We should demand that our political representatives allocate more funds to the Environmental Protection Agency and to cities nationwide for the funding of maintenance and repair of municipal water systems. Publicly run water utilities enable equitable access of water to all residents and people overseas," Phillips said.

"Water is a human need and a human right, everyone should have access to clean drinking water, not just those who can afford it. Water is a precious resource: we need to conserve it and use it very wisely," he said.

AniMent draws is name from its advocacy for Animals and the Environment.


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