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Rhodes bans bottled water to save the environment


Rhodes Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Sizwe Mabizela (front, 3rd from left) with various department heads that have to implement the new environmental sustainability measures.

Plastics, electricity, paper and water usage were under sharp spotlight during the Environmental Sustainability Workshop by Rhodes University students, academics and administrators. They committed to the adoption of new, ambitious sustainability indicators to measure institutional performance against revised annual targets for plastic, electricity, paper and water usage.


Among the targeted sustainability measures, there will be immediate elimination of bottled water from University events; substitution of electronic document packs for printed ones for all meetings; the development of effective waste diversion and recycling programmes; installation of smart water meters at residences to monitor and manage water allocations; effective utilisation of grey and rainwater for all buildings.


The University also banned the use of Styrofoam water containers at exam venues in 2019.

Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, referred to environmental sustainability as the fourth pillar of the University’s core purpose alongside teaching and learning, research and community engagement.


“Rhodes University is well-positioned to contribute to the global project of pursuing sustainability within Rhodes University and by extension, the Makhanda community,” said Mabizela.


Quoting an American Indian proverb, Director for Institutional Research, Planning and Quality Promotion, Dr Remi Nnadozie, reminded participants that “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; [but] we borrow it from our children.”


Margaret Wolff from the Institute for Water Research said, “I think we made a truly exciting start to this journey and there seems to be a real commitment from those who attended the workshop to carry the process forward.”


All these plans were revealed during a workshop by the Institute for Water Research, Environmental Learning Research Centre and the Department of Environmental Science and Institutional Research.


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