Outlook

Student organization makes big splash

Monday, May 9, 2011

The sculpture contains about the same number of plastic water bottles bought in the United States each second. Photograph by Neil Andersen 96.

The sculpture contains about the same number of plastic water bottles bought in the United States each second. Photograph by Neil Andersen 96.

A tower of plastic water bottles was the focal point for AniMent at a Celebrating Connection event in Atwood Memorial Center in mid November.

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 resource 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.

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.

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

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