NYU in 2019: We will stop buying bottled water. NYU in 2023: Here’s some bottled water from us.

January 23, 2023 by Joshua
in Choosing/Decision-Making

I don’t look for this stuff. It’s impossible to miss. Where is the leadership in sustainability? Why is everyone so slippery? (I know the answer, of course. Lincoln said it best: “Nothing does more damage to you than to do something you believe is wrong.” When you do, you will lie, cheat, deny, and suppress to avoid facing the internal conflict.)

I start teaching this semester at NYU tomorrow. The classroom I’ll teach in is in a new building so I went today to make sure the technology works and check for any idiosyncrasies.

I saw this vending machine selling bottled doof. I suspect NYU isn’t selling the products, but note the NYU logo on the machine, which looks like an endorsement to me.

Now look at these headlines from NYU’s own pages announcing NYU will stop spending on plastic bottles. You could say it isn’t technically “spending” cash on these bottles, but it’s devoting Manhattan real estate and endorsing with its brand, arguably spending something as meaningful as cash. Manhattan real estate costs a lot, especially when you deliver it with a captive rich audience, many not yet adult.

It’s devoting its reputation, or rather risking it, which can tank faster than a university might lose cash. And for what? To go back on its publicly stated word, defending itself on a technicality? The building has plumbing and students can bring containers. None of the products in the machine improve anyone’s life, all pollute, and many cause addiction.

Why skirt with impropriety, let alone for products nobody needs, polluting in exactly the way its own pages condemn?

Maybe it will claim it would avoid still water and all this doof is sparkling or flavored. Why present yourself as slippery? What message do you want to send your students? Why profit off of polluting?

NYU to Halt Spending on Plastic Bottles by 2020

Policy: NYU funds shall not be used to purchase pre-packaged, still water on campus in NYC.

On top of this profiting from pollution, the school gave out coffee, donuts, and fruit on the building’s opening day. Sounds great, right? All with disposable cups and utensils.

NYU, you are teaching students to say one thing and do another. It’s slippery. I see it as a leadership issue, as the university’s leaders consistently talk sustainability while doing the opposite. For example, the president constantly harps on NYU’s campus being one of the greenest, as if it can take credit for New York’s density and public transit. Then out of the other side of his mouth he talks about NYU’s global campus, with campuses in the middle east and Asia, leading to tens of thousands of flights, maybe a hundred thousand a year.

Which is it? Green campus or flying? No bottled water or bottled water?

EDIT: More NYU-funded water bottles

I attended an event where NYU gave speakers water bottles. There were water fountains and a kitchen with sinks nearby, so no reason to flout NYU policy and buy water bottles. You can say, “it’s just a few bottles” all you want, but people went out of their ways to buy and distribute them. Why work harder to pollute?

That event also provided lunches that included more garbage than food, or nearly so. The garbage will last centuries, poisoning what remains of humanity and wildlife. I took this picture after most of the garbage was cleared, but imagine this table covered with this mess multiplied by 15 or 20 tables. Nobody seemed to mind. Why should they? NYU led them to think nothing of this pollution. The person behind this box didn’t even eat most of the food.

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