Tap That

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.


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.

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.

Environmental Impact:
  • Waste
  • Water
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.

Environmental Problem:

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.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $7,457
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


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

Non-CSF Sources:

Project Completion Total: $7,457


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