Eliminate Single-use Plastic Water Bottles


The recent WATERLICHT installation by artist Daan Roosegaarde was a powerful reminder of the beauty of water and a call to take action on rising global sea levels. But the work of educating people about climate change and other water issues—pollution, equity, access, agriculture—continues and involves all of us.

What You Can Do

Let's get rid of single-use plastic water bottles on campus.

Join School of the Arts in its commitment to reducing the use of plastic and discouraging companies from extracting water from lakes and aquifers that should remain in the public trust.


  • Ask cafes in your facilities to stop selling single-use plastic water bottles
  • Deauthorize orders of single-use plastic water bottles from vendors such as Staples and Amazon
  • Purchase glass carafes, pitchers, and glasses for use in offices and at events


  • Encourage the use of glasses and refillable water bottles
  • Replace vending machines that sell single-use plastic water bottles
  • Recycle and do not co-mingle materials such as paper, glass, metal, etc.

What We're Doing

An icon of a washing machine made by Freepik from flaticon.com

We've transitioned to high-efficiency washing machines in University Apartment Housing. These washers save nearly 17 gallons of water per cycle—that's 8.5 million gallons a year.

A manual water pump icon made by Smashicons from flaticon.com

A domestic pump station has been added on the east side of the Morningside Campus to improve water supply and minimize energy load.

An icon of a toilet made by Freepik from flaticon.com

Columbia is upgrading to water-saving dual-flush toilets, which can save up to half a gallon of water per flush, and water-saving urinals, which use only a pint of water per flush, compared to the gallon used by older models.

An icon of a person stepping forward with hand raised, a leader, made by Wilson Joseph from the Noun Project

Sustainable Leaders Network is a group of students, faculty, and staff collaborating on user-friendly, campus-wide efforts to drive behavior change from the ground up across Columbia's campuses.

An icon of a fork, plate, and knife made by ProSymbols from the Noun Project

Columbia Dining went trayless in fall 2009. Removing 1,400 trays saved 3,000 gallons of water a day and about 50 pounds of food waste per meal.

An icon of a roof, with three people beneath it, by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project

The Green Roofs initiative is part of Columbia’s commitment to building green. Green roofs provide partial solutions to storm-water management, pollution reduction, and improved air quality.

A water bottle icon made by chappara from the Noun Project

Columbia University School of the Arts has eliminated single-use plastic water bottles in its facilities and at its events.

Stay in Touch

Year of Water continues through spring with more conferences, art, and other events. Sign up for our newsletter to be among the first to learn about them.

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