• Better than bottled

    Sustainable water practices at the University of Saskatchewan

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  • Better than bottled

    Reduce waste

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  • Better than bottled

    Cheaper alternatives

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Better than Bottled is a student initiative to limit the consumption of bottled water at the University of Saskatchewan by promoting a healthy, free, and sustainable alternative: tap water.


Production, transportation and disposal of bottled water has a high environmental footprint (only 20% of the disposed bottles are recycled!). Bottling facilities may put strain on local water resources, as bottled water is often permanently removed from the area, potentially limiting availability of drinking water to local people.

Better access

There are many new initiatives on campus promoting the use of refillable water bottles. These initiatives include retrofitted water fountains with bottle filling stations, and a mobile water cart to provide a bottle filling station for outdoor events on campus.

Informed choices

There are many benefits to drinking tap water over bottled water - for one, it is generally 1000-2000 times cheaper! The Better than Bottled campaign endeavors to provide campus consumers with the facts they need to make informed decisions, including the environmental, social and economic benefits of tap water.


Better than Bottled is a joint initiative of the School of Environment and Sustainability Students' Association and Students of the Global Institute for Water Secutiy to promote more sustainable drinking water practices at the University of Saskatchewan. Members of these organizations are currently reaching out to students, faculty and staff on campus, in addition to speaking with representatives from the City of Saskatoon, community organizations, and the bottled water industry. This is a continual effort and, as such, more content will be added to this site as it becomes available. The information is presented in an effort to share knowledge, promote informed consumerism, work to find innovative solutions, and spark constructive dialogue amongst the campus community.

Is there a location you want to see a bottle friendly fountain? Email us the location contact@betterthanbottled.ca.

Campaign objectives

  1. Raise awareness at the University of Saskatchewan on the drawbacks associated with the production and sale of bottled water.
  2. Increase the use of refillable water bottles (and tap water), as opposed to bottled water.
  3. Move towards limiting (and potentially eliminating) the sale of bottled water at the University of Saskatchewan campus.

You can help by signing the petition at Change.org.

The issues


  1. Plastic bottle production uses large amounts of petroleum.
  2. Transportation of bottled water to the consumer requires substantial energy and is associated with greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. An estimated 80% of plastic water bottles are not recycled and typically take 400 to 1000 years to naturally break down. During this time, the bottles sit in landfills putting pressure on our waste disposal facilities, or become litter that can enter the food chain with negative impacts to animals that ingest it.


  1. Bottled water production involves the depletion of water from the source area, often impeding local people's access to drinking water. In comparison, tap water is a local commodity from your own area


  1. Bottled water is sold for approximately 1000-2000 times the cost of tap water.
  2. The bottled water industry represents a privatization of water resources, which undermines our existing public system and limits the provision of clean and accessible drinking water for all.


  1. The higher cost of bottled water does not ensure the consumer receives a higher quality of drinking water, compared to tap water because bottled water and tap water are controlled by different regulatory bodies.
  2. Bottled water is typically just municipal (tap) water that goes through an additional treatment process (e.g. distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis).

Water on campus

All water fountains on campus are cleaned 2-3 times per day by custodial staff. Some fountains are chilled and some are not - this is an energy and cost reduction strategy. Water on campus comes from the City of Saskatoon Water Treatment Plant. The treatment plant has a laboratory where staff conduct over 50,000 water quality tests a year to ensure Saskatoon's tap water meets the Canadian Drinking Water Standards, and Saskatchewan's Municipal Drinking Water Quality Objectives. Results from water quality testing are provided annually in the Drinking Water Quality and Compliance Report, mandated by Saskatchewan Environment.

Over the past 5 years, steps have been made to reduce the usage and sale of bottled water on campus.

  1. USSU has banned bottled water sales from vending machines in USSU common spaces.
  2. The Office of Sustainability has promoted the use of reusable water bottles, by developing a mobile water cart called the Waterfillz station. The Waterfillz station uses tap water from the university to provide a source of water while saving energy, reducing waste, and contributing to a more sustainable future. Please contact sustainability@usask.ca for more information.
  3. Seven water fountains have been retrofitted to double as water bottle filling stations, to fill reusable water bottles with ease. See the map to find the closest station to you!

See the map below to find the closest station to you!

  1. Engineering - to left beside lockers where Ag skywalk enters 2nd floor engineering
  2. Engineering - 1st floor across from 1c01 (Structures and Materials Lab)
  3. Engineering - beside 1B36 (just around the corner from the library and through the doors)
  4. Peter MacKinnon Building - 2nd floor in short hallway that connects it to Admin building
  5. Arts Addition - 1st floor beside Rm 115
  6. Arts - 1st floor lounge area heading towards Edwards School of Business
  7. Arts - 2nd floor hallway beside Rm 256

In the News

Global news

A group of University of Saskatchewan students is pushing to ban the sale of bottled water on campus. The University Of Saskatchewan School of Environment and Sustainability Students' Association began the initiative in September. "Tap water is safe, and it's also the more sustainable way to consume water" said Kathryn Dompierre, a student outreach committee representative with the Global Institute for Water Security.

The Sheaf

The University of Saskatchewan School of Environment and Sustainability Students' Association is leading a campaign to ban the sale of bottled water on the University of Saskatchewan campus. "Bottled water is an unnecessary product; we just don't need it," said SENSSA president Manuel Chavez-Ortiz. "Water is, and should be, a free product."


End the sale of bottle water now. Sign the petition for a more sustainable campus. You may also contact us with any suggestions or comments.

Yes! Many schools across Canada and the United States have successfully banned the sale of bottled water on their campuses. (See a list of universities here.) The University of Winnipeg was the first university in Canada to do so in 2009. Students all receive refillable water bottles during orientation week so all students have access to water without having to buy bottled water.

We understand that there are circumstances when tap water is not an option, for example, if someone has an allergy or sensitivity to fluoride. Therefore, bringing bottled water onto campus is fine, we would just like to minimize its consumption by everyone else on campus so that the University of Saskatchewan moves towards a more sustainable attitude!

The Better than Bottled campaign attempts to divert those buying bottled water to use a water fountain and refillable water bottle instead. If bottled water was removed from campus, there would still be a healthy option flowing out of the tap - and it's free!

The Better than Bottled campaign can help you out with that! We will be handing out reusable water bottles at our educational booths. You could also contact the Office of Sustainability for a reusable water bottle.

Even if your bottle is recycled, the energy that went into supplying you with that one bottle of water is very high (including energy involved in bottle and cap production, transporting the bottle and cap to the water source, and shipping the final product to the consumer). On average, the total energy required to create a bottle of water, and get it to the consumer, is between 5.6 to 10.2 Mega-Jules, which is as much as 2000 times the energy required to produce the same amount of tap water. This amount of energy could power a moderately efficient refrigerator for 2 whole days - just for one bottle of water! Plus, SARCAN ships plastic bottles to Calgary to be recycled, adding onto the total energy required for that one lowly bottle of water. Therefore, the overall environmental footprint for a bottle of water is very high, even if recycled!

The original Better than Bottled initiative started the We Fill It campaign in 2009. Food vendors on campus that agreed to fill up reusable water bottles with tap water (free of charge) advertised the We Fill It slogan.



Sask H2O

Searchable water testing results

Canadian Bottled Water Association

The industry Facts and definitions



Canadian Beverage Association

Types of bottled water

Univ. of Sask.

Financial Services

PepsiCo agreement

School of Environment and Sustainability



In 2013, the School of Environment and Sustainability Student Association (SENSSA) and Students of the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) developed a joint campaign for USSU Sustainability Week to promote the benefits of drinking tap water over bottled water. Both groups were concerned about the drinking water culture at the University of Saskatchewan, and showed keen interest to move towards eliminating the sale of bottled water on campus. Together, SENSSA and Students of the GIWS have renewed the Better Than Bottled initiative, originally established in 2009 at the University of Saskatchewan.

The campaign kicked off with a booth set up during Sustainability Week featuring an interactive trivia game, a blind taste test of fountain water and bottled water, reusable water bottle giveaways, and a video showing the Story of Bottled Water. The booth drew an unprecedented amount of attention from a range of people - supporters of banning drinking water, skeptics of the quality of alternative drinking water, and some curious folk that had really just never thought about it.

It was obvious from this initial event that we really needed to open up the conversation to the greater campus, encouraging people to consider the implications of selecting bottled water as a beverage choice and the benefits of drinking tap water. The media was quick to pick up on this campaign, focusing on our desire to see a bottled water free campus one day. However, our campaign is first and foremost an educational initiative for the campus community. We hope to engage people to critically think about their choices as a consumer, how these choices can impact society and the environment, and foster support for eventually eliminating the sale of bottled water at the University of Saskatchewan.

Contact Us

Any questions, concerns, and comments can be directed to contact@betterthanbottled.ca. Or you can visit our Facebook page.