Student movement to ban the bottle

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03 Sep 2013

Mat Goodman is a new breed of Eco Warrior. His latest sustainability campaign draws you in with its striking imagery and a few simple words: “What is the real price of bottled water?”

There’s nothing in your face about it, no shocking stats, no grisly images of injured seagulls. It’s eco messaging stripped back and it’s powerful.

“You could say it’s a silent protest really. I’m using images to make people aware that there is a huge issue around bottled water but it’s their choice if they take action or not,” he says.

Mat gets why people do the exact thing he’s campaigning to end. Bottled water is convenient and it has its place. Take the Christchurch earthquakes for example; bottled water had its place then and it’s certainly the easy option for a long car journey. Some people even buy it simply because it’s the healthy option at the drinks fridge.

But would you buy it if you knew it was more expensive than petrol by the litre? Would you buy it if you knew it was impacting our environment locally? Would you buy it if you knew that our tap water in Christchurch is actually the best in the Southern Hemisphere?

These are the facts surrounding the issue of bottled water; an issue which Mat aims to highlight with his campaign ‘Bottle free CPIT.’

As part of his third year as a Sustainability and Outdoor Education student, Mat was challenged to expose an issue of his choice in an environmental action project. His inspiration came from a day diving at Taylors Mistake where he was stunned to see plastic bags and pieces of plastic water bottles blanketing the underwater environment.

“For me this experience brought the issue closer to home. I’ve seen the documentaries on ocean islands of rubbish but my dive made me aware that this is really an issue for us in Christchurch,” he says.

Mat Goodman project image

Mat Goodman aims to make CPIT plastic bottle free through a powerful exhibition of photographs which highlight environmental issues.

He set about researching deeper into the plastic bottle issue and the facts he uncovered say it all: According to The New Zealand Herald, we spent $60.4 million on bottled water in 2012; 70 per cent of these bottles won’t be recycled; and here in Christchurch our water is equal with that from Evian in France, the very company which we purchase so much of our bottled water from.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me that you would buy it when you can turn on a tap in Christchurch and get the best water in the world,” Mat says.

One of the most shocking facts about our bottled water is that for every litre, 250 millilitres of oil has been consumed during the production process, from the source, to the factory, to the shelf. It’s this fact that Mat has chosen to highlight with his Bottle Free CPIT campaign.

Pulling together students from different programmes throughout CPIT, Mat has produced a series of striking photographs which he shot himself at home. The images are stripped back, simply students on a white background with a trail of oil lingering somewhere on their face or body; one of them has an oil trail of tears; another has an oil Ta Moko. They’re based on a similar campaign in the US.

“I wanted students from all different programmes and places to show that there are a diverse range of people who care about this cause,” he says.

His next step is to set up an exhibition in the Rakaia Atrium and he is hoping to fill the canvasses on the outside of one of the Art Boxes opposite the Madras Street Campus. He’s also lobbied the CE for permission to talk to the cafés on campus about removing bottled water for sale.

He’s not expecting miracles. He knows that if the demand is there for a product then it will continue to be sold. Ultimately he hopes that making a few people more aware of the issues will help to create change.

“Eliminating bottled water is something each individual could do. It just requires a bit of forward thinking – carrying water in a reusable bottle on you always as you would carry your cell phone,” he says.

It’s a small change which could have a big impact, starting on campus.