Did you know that the U.S. alone went through 50 billion plastic water bottles last year?

Members of Students for Environmental Awareness in Medicine (SEAM) have taken serious interest in changing student, staff and faculty consumption of bottled water at Harvard Medical School (HMS). SEAM and HMS Facilities have partnered together in order to look at the lack of available tap water in the Tosteson Medical Education Center (TMEC) at HMS.

The student group held a lunchtime panel in TMEC on January 28 in order to allow all interested parties, such as society leaders, students, and faculty and staff members that work in the TMEC building, to voice their opinions regarding this effort to reduce bottled water and instead switch to tap water in the building.

The effort arose as the result of student concerns raised at one of the monthly SEAM student workshops, held with the HMS Facilities and Campus Operations groups, about both the environmental impacts and human health hazards of bottled water. The HMS societies spend thousands of dollars each year to purchase bottled water that has a significant carbon footprint due to its collection and delivery methods. Furthermore, Boston city water is more stringently regulated by the EPA than bottled water corporations are by the FDA, and bottled water lacks the fluoridation treatment that city water receives.

The HMS Facilities group is currently working to identify potential locations for one or more water filtration faucets utilizing Boston city water. SEAM members plan to conduct a foot traffic study in potential water filtration station areas, such as the second floor atrium near the vending machines, in order to determine whether tap water filtration stations might potentially replace the expensive and resource-intensive bottled water stations in the societies.