The fifth annual Tap-a-Palooza competition is officially over! Congratulations to all 24 participating college campuses and the two winners, who both received a $1,500 prize to be used for water infrastructure improvements.
Tap-a-Palooza is a contest run as part of Food & Water Watch’s Take Back the Tap campus campaign which encourages students to choose tap over bottled water. William & Mary won with pledges for capita -- 11% of the student body signed up -- for the second time in a row. Central Michigan University took first place for overall pledge category, with an incredible 1,038 students pledging to stop using bottled water.
Central Michigan University Makes Strides to Take Back the Tap
Central Michigan University has been making strides toward a water-bottle-free campus since their organization’s founding in 2010, but this year their extensive efforts placed them at the top.
Student Leaders Allison LaPlatt and Sarah McAuliffe were excited to make real progress on campus. Allison decided to get involved with Take Back the Tap when she realized just how much water privatization impacted the environment and the public water supply.
“How can we expect people to stand up for the environment if they don’t have water?” Allison said.
Sarah joined because she wanted to get involved with environmental issues.“I wanted to get more involved and see what I could do to work toward making a difference – even if it was a small one to start.”
Their biggest event during the competition was called “A Day Without Bottled Water” -- bottled water was pulled out of all on-campus markets for one day, and an informational event was held to explain why.
When we asked Allison for advice for future campaigns, she said “I want to tell other Take Back the Tap campuses to never give up. There are going to be moments where you feel like you’re not going to make any change, but it will come – you just have to keep resisting."
“How can we expect people to stand up for the environment if they don’t have water?"
William & Mary Wins Again
What's their winning strategy? Student organizers Carlyn LeGrant and Megan Gillen said they encourage members to talk to organizations they are involved in, explain Take Back the Tap’s message and keep them updated on what they can do to help. Carlyn said their methods were simple -- for example, asking members to stand up in meetings for other organizations and ask people to take out their phones and sign the pledge. They also held reusable bottled water giveaways, screened educational documentaries like "Tapped" and worked together to clean and distribute reusable bottles left around campus -- in Carlyn's words, a "quadruple whammy."
Carlyn became involved with the campaign last year because she felt it was the environmental organization on campus that offered the best opportunity to create an immediate impact, while also working toward a long-term goal.
“It was something I could get involved with immediately, and it could have an impact on campus and the community at large.” LeGrant said.
Megan, a sophomore, knew about Take Back the Tap before she started at William & Mary. She said she joined at the start of her freshman fall semester because the campaign aligned well with all of her environmental interests. “The issue of eliminating single-use plastic water bottles on campus seemed like second nature to me,” she said.
"We utilized [our] connections and stressed the importance of talking to people face to face"
Carlyn explained how they were able to reach so many students: “One really cool thing about this campus is people are involved in more than one thing, so we really utilized those connections and stressed the importance of talking to people face to face.”