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    Blaine Eubank

    Published: June 13, 2016

    Pelican Water Sustainability Scholarship: 3rd Place Winner — Blaine Eubank

    Among the many riveting entries we received in response to our bi-annual College Scholarship Contest, Blaine Eubank’s rousing essay evoked the most urgency. Her vivid imagery and compelling action plan stirred the heart as well as the mind. By framing the damage done by plastic bottled water in stark visuals, Blaine captured the emotional appeal that social media can have to facilitate change in society. Pelican Water proudly recognizes Blaine Eubank as our 3rd place prizewinner.

    Blaine Eubank recently graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, focusing on Chemistry as a Biological Sciences major. While in college she actively gave back to her community, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, The Boys & Girls Club, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and the American Heart Association, among other organizations. Her $500 prize will go toward her education in the Masters of Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

    Q: What are some ways to increase awareness about the negative environmental and social impacts of single use bottled water and how would you convince people to filter their own water at home?

    Bottle caps fill the stomachs of birds, plastic bottles obstruct the intestines of whales and

    bisphenol A, often referred to as BPA and a component of water bottles, leaches into the water

    that is to be consumed. All of these situations are real, and while the first two instances

    obviously succeed in killing powerless animals, the third is a killer in disguise. Bisphenol A has

    been proven to disrupt the endocrine system resulting in certain cancers, infertility and some

    neurological disorders. With this life threatening information, it’s difficult to comprehend why

    single use water bottles are still a desirable choice for water consumers. Fortunately, many

    people have recognized the lethal effects that single use water bottles impose on both animals

    and humans, and many schools as well as some towns have banned the selling of single use

    water bottles. Despite these efforts, the United States still has the largest consumer market for

    water bottles. However, change is imperative for the health and continued conservation of our

    animals, people, society and the environment. With a desire to increase awareness about the

    negative environmental and social impacts of single use water bottles, I have a proposition to

    educate and transform the beliefs of the American population on the overabundant usage of

    single use water bottles.

    In an effort to reach as many people as possible with minimal work or resources, I began

    to consider what form of broadcasting would be the most successful. After some deliberation, I

    determined that because social media is an outlet by which many generations are familiar with,

    that it would be perfect for reaching the majority of the targeted audience. We have turned to

    social media not only as a source of entertainment, but also, as a means of communicating with

    others and expressing our opinions. Therefore, with the impact and degree to which social media

    plays in our everyday lives, it would be the perfect source through which we could educate

    others about the myths and problems that are quickly growing out of control surrounding the

    usage of these not so “disposable” water bottles.

    With a good source to express our concerns, we must now focus on educating the

    audience. We will be able to effectively reach our audience if we simply start by providing them

    with the facts about single use water bottles and its effects both environmentally and socially.

    We need to inform them about the exorbitant energy costs as well as the greater price margins,

    health concerns and water quality, or lack there of, associated with single us water bottles. In

    fact, in tap water challenges across America, people can’t tell a difference between bottled water

    and filtered tap water when blindfolded. Most people do not intentionally set out to hurt the

    environment, but rather, they are not knowledgeable on the topic and therefore fail to see the

    error in their actions. By providing facts about single use bottled water, consumers may change

    their current beliefs about bottled water or stop ignoring the information that they have heard to

    be true. Unfortunately, our population is keen on convenience, and that is exactly what single

    use water bottles are, convenient. Therefore, we must take greater steps to compel single use

    water bottle users to see that change in necessary if we wish to conserve our environment and

    society.

    For me, personally, anytime I watch a video on social media where animals have been

    displaced or injured as a result of someone’s careless actions to properly dispose of their waste, I

    am beside myself. It is these videos that compel me to want to do everything in my power to be

    the changing force for these wildlife creatures, and I believe many others are just as affected by

    these horrid displays of negligence as I am. Furthermore, if there was a way to visualize the

    number of single use water bottles that are used annually, others may start to see the impact that

    their contribution is making on wildlife and the environment. For instance, since water bottles

    are notorious for winding in our oceans on beaches, maybe we could stage a few thousand water

    bottles and then use a little editing to present viewers and consumers alike of the epidemic that

    water bottles are creating annually.

    By constructing a video that consists of a real animal that has been affected by the

    overabundant usage of single use water bottles as well as a visual interpretation of the amount of

    water bottles filling up landfills and residing in oceans annually, along with several facts that are

    often misinterpreted about water bottles, we could create a successful means of spreading

    awareness about single use water bottles via social media. It is when a video reaches the

    audience in both a heart wrenching and eye opening way that it becomes a sensation that

    everyone wants to help share, contribute and change their previous habits for. It doesn’t end

    here, though. We must provide ending acknowledgments to the ease, convenience and

    sustainability that filtering water at home provides. We must light this spark and allow social

    media and the population’s consciences do the heavy lifting. I, personally, have yet to encounter

    this single use water bottle conservation type video, but as a young water consumer whom is in

    touch with today’s society, I know in my heart that this could potentially be America’s first step

    in defeating this war against single use water bottles.

    In order to be successful in these efforts to raise awareness, we must also be proactive in

    providing other convenient alternatives. Purchasing reusable water bottles is easy enough, but

    the installation of water refueling stations in high traffic areas would help to ensure the success

    and productivity to making this campaign a success. Ultimately, this is a nationwide task that

    needs to be undertaken by many advocates, but it is one that is crucial to the success and future

    of our animals, people, society and environment. We cannot continue to allow our animals,

    including the birds and whales discussed, as well as our population to fall victim to the

    components that comprise single use water bottles. We must amass our efforts and be the

    driving force behind this imperative consumer revolt.