Letter of Intent
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: 
Letter of Intent: 

Project Tap That's goal is to educate UW students about the harmful effects of single-use plastic water bottles on the environment and promote the use of reusable water bottles and fountains. Many students do not equate their food and consumption choices with real world problems because the effects are not immediately (or ever) felt or seen by the consumer. Project Tap That aims to bridge the educational gap between student consumption and environmental impacts by starting a conversation on campus about plastic bottles and the importance of reusable bottles. The project will achieve this by producing and distributing educational materials, such as posters, signs, and stickers, raising awareness of the campaign by distributing water bottles, hosting documentary screenings, and working with the UW School of Art to create a striking art piece made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles. These events will stimulate student thought about the impacts of their choices.


Single-use plastic water bottles are extremely harmful to the environment in every stage of the product's life cycle. It takes approximately 17 to 20 million barrels of oil just to manufacture the plastic bottles each year. A more comprehensible figure is that it takes roughly 1/4 bottle of oil to produce just one plastic bottle. When the oil used to transport water bottles is added to the manufacturing estimate, the figure jumps to over 50 million barrels of oil each year. When plastic bottles are transported, carbon emissions are pumped into the air, which exacerbates the effects of climate change. In addition to oil, it takes three liters of water in order to produce just one liter of bottled water. After bottled water is purchased and consumed, the bottle becomes yet another challenge. Two million tons of plastic water bottles end up in landfills, where they never truly degrade. Plastic bottles that are incinerated produce toxic fumes, and bottles that end up in the ocean break into tiny pieces that are ingested by marine wildlife. Plastic water bottles contribute to climate change, overconsumption of natural resources, and the deaths of thousands of marine wildlife. Reducing and eventually eliminating plastic water bottles from UW’s campus will reduce the university’s indirect consumption of oil, energy, and water. It will also lead to important social change that is necessary for more sustainable consumption choices.


Studies have shown that tap water is the same as, or higher quality, than bottled water. In fact, more than 25 percent of bottled water is just tap water in a bottle. Tap water is highly regulated, whereas bottled water regulations can be more lax. The University of Washington can make real strides towards sustainability by strongly discouraging the purchase of bottled water on campus.


This project was inspired by the ban of plastic water bottles on several prominent Washington university campuses, namely Seattle University and Western Washington University. While currently it would be very difficult to initiate a ban on selling plastic water bottles on UW’s campus due to the contract that is in place with the Coca-Cola company, the formerly mentioned universities were able to overcome this same issue by creating an educational campaign centered around the importance of reusable water bottles. These campaigns eventually lead to widespread student support followed by faculty support of the initiative. After the student’s and faculty were all in agreement, the campuses were able to start the conversation with Coca-Cola and renegotiate their contract to exclude single-use plastic water bottles. These campuses have provided the framework for us to start a similar campaign as well as the precedence for our long-term goal of banning the plastic water bottle to succeed. Both of the campaigns launched by these schools started with just a few students looking to make a difference and they slowly evolved into great projects that led to important social change.

The first leg of Project Tap that will focus on spreading educational materials about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of single-use plastic water bottles, the importance of reusable water bottles, as well as information about how to properly dispose of plastic materials. Educational materials will consist of posters and signage that will be placed in high volume buildings on campus, as well as pamphlets and signage for a campaign table. We are working with graphic design students to design visual media, but our rough estimate for educational materials at this point is $500. We would also like to purchase 1,000 wholesale stainless steel water bottles with customized “Project Tap That UW” logos as a promotional give-away to students who attend documentary screenings. This will stimulate the use of reusable bottles on campus. The bottles will also potentially be used as free prizes for participating in campaign booth events. Wholesale bottle prices are widely variable but we have chosen a BPA-free aluminum bottle that is manufactured in Washington in order to support sustainable, local investment. The bottles are estimated at $11.50 each, so 1,000 would come out to $11,500. We are in the process of obtaining more specific information about tax, shipping & handling, and other potential charges. Our current vision for the art project is a large 3D art piece made from plastic water bottles, which would be temporarily displayed in the HUB with permission from Lincoln Johnson, director of the HUB. This visual statement would be created in collaboration with students from the UW School of Art and would feature an educational component by showing and informing students about the large amount of plastic bottles that are consumed. Project Tap That has been granted permission by UW Recycling to collect plastic bottles for the art piece in designated bins during spring quarter, which will be placed in cafes and other locations on campus. Our current estimate for art supplies to create this piece is $174.09, but will likely change depending on the artist’s vision after we recruit students willing to work on the project. Our total cost estimate at this stage in our project for education materials, art supplies, and reusable water bottles is $12,174.09.

Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
Lauren Rowe
Full Proposal
This will display after the CSF committee has reviewed and approved your LOI, and after you have received the link to edit your application.
Executive Summary: 

Project Tap That's goal is to educate University of Washington (UW) students about the harmful effects of single-use plastic water bottles, promote the use of reusable water bottles, and ultimately ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. Many students do not equate their food and consumption choices with real world problems because the effects are not immediately (or ever) felt or seen by the consumer. Project Tap That seeks to bridge the educational gap between student consumption and environmental impact through a multi-year campaign−similar to Seattle University and Western Washington University−that will take the following steps:

  • A year of education and outreach focused on project visibility and spreading information about the impacts of disposable water bottles.
  • A second year of outreach focused on gaining student and faculty support through signatures while still spreading information.
  • An attempt to start a dialogue with UW faculty about renegotiating the contract with Coca-Cola and banning the sale of plastic water bottles on campus.


Project stakeholders and partners will mainly be UW students, HFS staff members, and UW Recycling administrators. The UW Earth Club will be assisting Project Tap That with outreach, putting up posters, handing out flyers, and tabling events. UW art students, (there are currently two), will be creating, designing and installing the art piece in the HUB by fall 2015, as well as helping with graphic design of educational materials. HFS representative Michael Meyering is supplying Project Tap That with information about water bottle sales on campus. Project Tap That will be using this information for educational materials and for the amount of bottles used in the art pieces. UW Recycling representative Liz Gignilliat has granted the project access to recycling bins, which will be placed around campus to procure bottles for the art piece. Director of the HUB Lincoln Johnson has approved the placement of 1-2 large art projects in two specific locations in the HUB. UW Art advisor Elizabeth Copland is assisting Project Tap with facilitating student interest.


Project Tap That is asking for a total of $7,456.59  to be used for art supplies, visual media, and 500 promotional reusable water bottles.


Total amount requested from the CSF: 
$7 457
This funding request is a: 
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Plastic glue 2 oz.54.9927.45
Glue gun57.9943.95
Hot glue (255)138.0341.84
Wire (32 ft)23.437.55
Liberty BPA-free aluminum bottles50011.505750.00
Storage unit for bottles for the art project 1 unit for 4 months229.00 per month938.00
Project Completion Total: 
$7 457
Sustainability Impact: 
Sustainability Challenge: 

In 2010, citizens in the United States consumed approximately 42.6 billion plastic water bottles. However, the rate of recycling plastic water bottles in the U.S. is only 23 percent, which means that over 9 billion bottles (well over a billion dollars worth of plastic) are sent to landfills or end up in the oceans each year.  Additionally, it takes around three times as much water as well as a ¼ of a liter of oil to manufacture and transport each bottle, which creates a substantial carbon footprint and wastes one of the most precious substances on the planet in an effort to make a profit. Plastic water bottles create a very large impact on the planet that can easily be avoided.


According to data directly from HFS Building and Sustainability Manager Michael Meyering, nearly 180,000 plastic water bottles were purchased in 2014 for sale on campus. This is a substantial number of bottles that are being transported to campus, and eventually wasted after only a few minutes or hours of use. A large number number of these bottles are disposed of on campus and end up in the landfill each year. A 2012 survey done by the UW Garbology club on disposal kiosks around the university campus showed that approximately 30% of all recyclable plastic ends up in the trash or mistakenly in the compost (UW Garbology 2012). Better recycling practices would reduce the number of bottles being “wasted” on campus; however, these bottles still require large quantities of oil and water just to be produced and transported, and are usually just recycled into more plastic bottles and other plastic products. Project Tap That seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate the amount of plastic bottles UW contributes to landfills and will work with HFS representatives to track the amount of water bottles sold after the project has been implemented to determine the success of the outreach.

Explain how the impacts will be measured: 

HFS representative Michael Meyering is supplying Project Tap That with information about water bottle sales on campus. This information will be used as a baseline for measuring the impacts of Project Tap That. Based on data provided to Project Tap That from Michael Meyering, 180,000 plastic water bottles were purchased in 2014 for sale on campus. After the campaign has been launched, Project Tap That will again meet with Michael Meyering to track and collect data about water bottle sales on campus to evaluate the impact of the campaign. This data can be converted into the amount of plastics diverted from the landfill, the amount of energy saved from making the bottles, and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reduced from transportation.

Education & Outreach: 

Education is a central component of Project Tap That. The first stage of the project, which will take place in fall 2015, will involve having a weekly or bi-weekly outreach table on campus as well as tabling at prominent events−like the annual Sustainability Summit and Dawg Daze−to raise awareness about the campaign. At the table there will be educational materials, an opportunity to talk with a representative from Project Tap That about the issue, and information about how to get involved with future events. Tabling will also involve a bottled water vs. tap water taste test to demonstrate the taste consistency. Students will taste bottled water and tap water, without knowing which is which, and will be asked if they can identify the source of the water. Bottled water is often chosen over tap water due to arguments about differences in taste. Depending on what the students say, this activity will provide a basis for Project Tap That to educate students about similarities in bottled and tap water in terms of taste, but large differences in terms of environmental impact.


Project Tap That will host quarterly screenings of the documentary Tapped (2009) and/or Plastic Paradise (2013) where the promotional water bottles will be handed out to participants following a post-movie discussion. Project Tap That is also discussing creating a resident student organization which will allow interested students to meet weekly, help volunteer with events and learn more about the campaign and the cause. The RSO will also allow for the current members of the campaign (Dillon, Rachel & Emily) to find motivated students to take over campaign responsibilities following our graduation (Spring 2015).


Two art pieces made solely out of plastic water bottles will be placed in two locations of the HUB. These art pieces are designed to show students the vast amount of plastic bottles that are consumed, many of which end up in landfills. The art pieces will be accompanied by signs that provide information about the impacts of bottled water. In addition to this, signs that contain information about the ecological benefits of choosing tap water will be placed by water fountains. All educational materials will contain Project Tap That’s logo, so the campaign will gain recognition over time. Tabling, signage, and the reusable bottles will spread awareness about the campaign to the UW community.


Through these educational efforts, we want to achieve these goals:

  • Achieve a well-known presence on campus
  • Educate as many individuals as possible about the impacts of plastic water bottles.
  • Convert individuals from plastic water bottle users to reusable water bottles users.
  • Gain support in our long-term initiative to ban plastic water bottles on campus.


Project Tap That will also look into pursuing an ASUW resolution for a ban on selling plastic water bottles in campus stores once the educational campaign has started and a certain amount of signatures have been collected. Passing a resolution with ASUW will strengthen the campaign’s message and show that students view this issue as important, which will increase traction when working with the administration on this.


Project Tap That recognizes the important role that the installation of water fountains has in changing behavior and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. However, at this moment, the members of Project Tap That are unable to devote an adequate amount of time towards researching and coordinating the logistics of installing additional water fountains. Project Tap That decided to focus on education and outreach rather than water fountain installation because originally, another team had written a CSF proposal for a project that was focused on the installation of new water fountains, but decided not to submit the proposal to the CSF. Project Tap That acknowledges the benefits of installing new water fountains and will begin researching and evaluating the feasibility of installing water fountains in various locations after the educational campaign is launched and underway.

Student Involvement: 

Project Tap That is partnering with UW Earth Club to promote the campaign, increase its scope across campus, and provide a base of passionate students to carry the project through to completion. The students in Earth Club will assist Project Tap That with tabling and other outreach efforts. Additionally, building off of previous research and experience, Earth Club will inform the direction of Project Tap That and provide a starting point for gathering more information from students about barriers to selecting tap water.


Project Tap That will also be working closely with multiple students from the School of Art to create the art pieces as well as appropriate visual media and a logo. The art students will be working over the course of late spring and early summer of 2015 to create the art pieces in order to display their work in the fall. Once the campaign is up and running, any interested students will be invited to weekly RSO meetings and to help with campaign efforts.

TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Creation of logo, fliers, and educational mat2erials3 monthsAugust 2015
Collection of water bottles for art project3 monthsAugust 2015
Developing the art piece4 monthsSeptember 2015
Installing and displaying the art piece2 monthsOctober 2015
Documentary screening1 monthOctober 2015
Campaign tabling (weekly or bi-weekly)9 monthsJune 2016
Amount Awarded: 
Potential Funding Reductions: 
If the budget were reduced by 5%, Project Tap That would purchase 467 reusable bottles instead of 500. If the budget were reduced by 10%, Project Tap That would purchase 435 reusable bottles. If the budget were reduced by 20%, Project Tap That would purchase 370 reusable bottles. The customized reusable bottles are important to the campaign and will be used by Project Tap That to generate word of mouth about the campaign and incentivize less environmentally aware students to take part in the change. We initially budgeted for 1,000 bottles but have lowered the amount to 500 based on the suggestions of CSF. If the budget were reduced further, Project Tap That would purchase fewer reusable bottles. To provide context, Project Tap That has chosen Liberty, a Washington based water bottle company, to design and create the bottles for our project. Liberty has previously made an order of bottles directly for the Campus Sustainability Fund, and continuing to order the bottles from Liberty will support a local business and cut down on the cross-country transportation, which would be less sustainable and incur higher shipping and handling costs. Liberty has generously offered the bottles at an educational discount for the campaign (regular wholesale price is $15.00/bottle). Liberty bottles are also creatively designed by professional graphic design artists at no extra charge.
Project Longevity: 

Project Tap that will be working with UW Earth Club to implement various parts of this project and will continue doing so in the future. The members of Project Tap That are also working to establish a Project Tap That registered student organization (RSO) to recruit students who are passionate about and dedicated to the goals of this campaign. Creating an RSO will ensure that this project will continue to be maintained in the future by cultivating a dedicated support base of students that will sustain the project. Student volunteers will assist with tabling events, collecting signatures for the bottled water petition, and educational events such as the documentary screening. Funds from the CSF will be used to create or purchase educational materials and bottles that will incentivize students to use a reusable bottle. Future funding will depend on what types of activities or outreach Project Tap That decides to engage in, but Project Tap That will look to external sources of funding after the campaign has begun.

Project status: