Healthy Hydrated Gauchos

posted in: Newsletter, Sustainability | 0

“Sustainability Scoop” News Articles


Healthy Hydrated Gauchos

By: Lauren Barnum

Co-Director, Plastic Pollution Coalition at UCSB

As fall begins, students fall back into the study, sleep, eat, repeat routine that is all too familiar for many of us Gauchos.  One word that doesn’t make it into this mantra is “hydrate”, a verb that is essential to our well-being as functioning humans.  With the on-going installation of Hydration Stations on campus, UC Santa Barbara has demonstrated their commitment to keeping students healthy and hydrated, while reducing our impact on the natural environment.

Photography by Kelsie Crane
Photography by Kelsie Crane

What is a “Hydration Station”?  Essentially, it’s an upgraded drinking fountain that provides students a convenient way to fill up their reusable water bottles with filtered water for free.  How is this done? The existing drinking fountain infrastructure is retrofitted with a spigot that allows easy-filling for students using reusable water bottles.  Instead of having to tilt their water bottle to fill it 75%, students now have the luxury of being able to fill their bottle to the top. With 35 different locations on campus, students can stay hydrated anywhere on campus from the library to Campbell Hall and even the residence halls. If you’re wondering where you can find one of these fancy fountains, make your way to UCSB’s Interactive Campus Map where you can see the exact location, description, and photo of each Hydration Station on campus.

What is the significance of this project? In addition to providing students a way of staying healthy and hydrated throughout the school year, they promote environmental stewardship by encouraging students to use and re-fill their reusable water bottles rather than purchasing single-use plastic bottles that end up polluting our oceans, beaches, and communities.  The production of plastic water bottles for the American public require 17 million barrels of oil each year, using up to 2000 times more energy to produce than water from the tap, which ends up being used to fill 1/4 of all bottled water.

The idea that drinking water from single-use bottles is healthier is simply a fallacy and an economic burden, since the recommended eight glasses of water each day can cost about $1,400 when drinking bottled water. By providing these Hydration Stations to students free of charge, they are not only saving money, but promoting the necessity of keeping our ecosystems healthy and plastic free.

As part of the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s campaign to reduce single-use plastic consumption and waste on campus, the Hydration Station project has once again picked up speed with campaigns to get these wonderful devices in the Recreation Center by the end of this year.  We hope that by providing students with a way to proactively make decisions that benefit our environment, we can create behavior change that eventually leads to a plastic bottle ban on campus in the future.  Whenever you’re feeling thirsty, resist the temptation to purchase that single-use bottle and find the Hydration Station nearest you, and don’t forget your reusable!


“Sustainability Scoop” News Articles