In the Public Health Scavenger Hunt, I implemented a photo of toothpaste/mouthwash to highlight the importance of oral hygiene to public health. As one of my Connect 3, I showed the significance of water fluoridation to reduce tooth decay. Both of these emphasize the prominence of dental care, but also the importance of water within them. Water, clean water specifically, as a source of self-care, self-health, and sustainability is one of the pillars of successful public health. As a university, USF can address environmental issues that prove detrimental to public health– one of the most prominent being water sustainability.
They can also be prime examples to the rest of the Tampa Bay community.
In 2011, USF students partnered with Students in Free Enterprise because current members noticed a majority of students carrying plastic, disposable water bottles around campus. These bottles were then tossed in the trash, not in the recycling. With the help of SIFE, students designed and produced stainless steeitsl bottles that have been sold for 5 dollars in the USF bookstore since.
Students in the SIFE chapter at USF have also worked with USF Physical Plant to install over 62 water stations for refillable bottles. They claim, “Within eight months, students have saved 1.2 million plastic water bottles from going into the landfill; which translates to $1.5 million saved,” and hope to implement even more stations to increase those numbers. While USF may be improving their sustainability (as shown by being recognized as one of only two universities in the state to receive a Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)), Hillsborough county needs help.
On https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/recreation-and-culture/recreation/water-bottle-filling-stations it shows the locations of hydration stations throughout the county. As of right now only 50 exist. The US Census Bureau calculates over 1.4 million people live in Hillsborough County. Therefore, just having 50 hydration stations scattered throughout the dozens of public facilities in the area does very minimal to encourage reusable waters.
While USF may be a leading figure of environmental friendliness, there are still many incoming/unaware students that can benefit if adequately educated and informed. USF can then use its prominence in the Tampa community to nudge public officials to adopt similar policies. I have three main, but unique, recommendations for starting to address the weaknesses in the Tampa Bay community and to help increase USF’s sustainability.
Familiarizing themselves with new tips of durability will allow the Tampa Bay area to increase its friendliness to nature and bring awareness to the importance of water. USF has a huge role to play in this and hopefully soon will be named the most sustainable university in America!