David Liao ‘17

Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, minoring in Marine Science

How did you get involved with the Student Sustainability Collective?

I heard about the Student Sustainability Collective (SSC) from the Environmental Systems program at the end of my freshmen year as the Collective then was recruiting directors for the next academic year. I jumped at the opportunity to be a marketing director because the position perfectly combines my passions for graphic design and sustainability. It has always been important for me to use graphic design to appeal to a wider audience and educate people about various social and environmental justice issues. And this was a perfect opportunity for me to get involved.

What is the Plastic Water Bottle Ban and how can people support it?

The Plastic Water Bottle Ban campaign was started by the SSC in 2010 as an effort to help support UC San Diego’s Climate Action Plan by eliminating the sale of single-use plastic bottled water and making Hydration Stations more accessible. This is also in tandem with the University of California Office of the President's goal to achieve zero waste by 2020. These are the important points of this campaign:

  • Human Rights Implications:
    • Water privatization:
      • Bottling water in local communities negatively affects the communities while allowing corporations to gain significant profits.
      • Damages local environments.
    • In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized water as a human right.
  • Environmental Implications:
    • 30–40% of the water involved in the process is wasted
    • 17 million barrels of oil used annually
    • 13% of water bottles end up recycled
    • 2.5 million tons of CO2 emitted
    • Plastic is the #1 threat to marine ecosystems
  • Public Health Implications:
    • Tap water has stricter chemical content regulations (EPA) than bottled water (FDA)
    • Plastic may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals

You can support the campaign by signing our petition, taking our survey, stop buying plastic water bottles, switching to reusable water bottles, and telling your friends and family about how plastic water bottle use is not only an environmental justice issue but also a social justice issue.

What is one action you suggest students can easily take to be more sustainable?

As a student, we do have a lot of purchasing power and we can choose to purchase more sustainability. We can choose products that are certified to be sustainable (e.g., Fair Trade Certification, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Marine Stewardship Council Certified Sustainable Seafood, etc.) or products that have as little packaging as possible to reduce waste. Or simply buying only what you need to reduce your carbon footprint and choosing to switch to reusable containers and water bottles instead of using to-go containers or buying plastic water bottles.