Art & Design senior Lauren Sopher and LSA sophomore Maggie Oliver are not fans of bottled water.
Sopher and Oliver gained University-wide recognition this year when they spearheaded a campaign to ban the sale of bottled water on campus.
Sopher and Oliver said their passion for the environment and involvement in environmental activities began at a young age. Sopher is on the LSA Water Theme Semester steering committee, which she said contributed to the awareness of the bottle ban initiative and Oliver chairs the Michigan Student Assembly Environmental Issues Commission.
Oliver said that though the bottle ban initiative was a relatively easy and environmentally friendly concept to advocate for, raising awareness for the issue was difficult. They’re advocating for the removal of vending machines that sell bottled water and implementing more water-filling stations to encourage reusable water bottles.
“It’s definitely been a struggle,” Oliver said. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that people don’t understand goes into these things. I’ve spent countless hours working on the resolutions … maybe I don’t sleep, but that’s OK.”
Sopher, who created a student petition that has 1,755 signatures, said the process of creating the petition was arduous. The petition required several hours of revision before students signed it at water themed semester steering events. Sopher said she believed the water themed LSA semester created a big push of awareness about the bottle ban.
“Without the backing of this semester and all of the events that are happening, this movement wouldn’t have happened,” she said.
After graduating, Sopher said she would be interested in taking part in FoodCorps, a division of AmeriCorps, which helps implement farm-produced products in school food systems.
Oliver said she hopes to join the Peace Corps after graduating and then pursue a career in environmental law. Though it has not yet passed in the assembly, Oliver said she is determined to continue with the initiative.
“The biggest thing is that we won’t give up,” Oliver said.
Sopher said she is working to raise awareness about the issue in order for it to pass in the assembly.
“We’re going to go back, and we’re going to try and win that vote,” Sopher said. “It doesn’t end with this semester. (We’ll) keep educating people about this issue. It’s not going to go away. It’s something that is present in all of our lives.”