Published: June 20, 2017

    Pelican Water Sustainability Scholarship 3rd Place Winner: Mingjie Feng

    Pelican Water received many riveting essays in response to our bi-annual College Scholarship Contest. Mingjie Feng’s entry grabbed our attention by using a persuasive combination of polling, personal research, and relevant interviews. By getting into the mind of real consumers and leaders, Feng examined the demand for and benefits of sustainable, affordable filtering systems as alternatives to bottled water. Pelican Water is honored to recognize Mingjie Feng as our 3rd place prizewinner.

    Mingjie Feng graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics in the spring of 2016. Currently Feng is pursuing his Master of Business Administration at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. While earning his degree Feng maintains a 3.9 GPA and works in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. His well-earned $500 prize will go toward Feng’s ongoing education as he pursues his master’s degree. Read his sustainability scholarship entry below.

    Would you buy less bottled water if you knew the facts about its production and impact on the environment, and why?

    I think consumers do want to balance the risk of adverse health effect of using filtered tap water and bottled water. After conducting a survey of over 20 people at my work place during a group lunch party watching the March Madness. The majority of them agree that drinking tap water is too risky for individual health. I work at the Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resource Division. Caring about the environment is our job. But it seems, concern about our health is placed at a higher regard, for most of us.

    One person I surveyed, Nicole, who also happens to be my supervisor says she uses both bottled and filtered tap water. Her refrigerator has a water filter and cooling system that is both convenient, cheap, clean, and reliable. She agrees that there are a lot of harm in bottled water. The plastic when recycled, uses chemicals and reused plastics that can get into the water it houses. That is why she said she prefer to use glass or ceramic cups to drink out of.

    One of my other co-worker, Chuck, says there is a company that cuts out a small segment of your main water line and installs water filter for your whole house. This is the best way to prevent health risks from tap water. He says most people don’t know how unclean the tap water is. If you take apart your shower head and look inside, you’ll see how dirty your water really is–that is the main reason why people don’t want to drink out of their tap. My shower head has never been cleaned since I moved in last year, it is completely molded blacked and covered with this white calcium stuff around it. I must agree, the water that comes out of our tap is very dirty and I would never let anyone drink out of them after seeing what I just saw.

    Margaret, the director of my section, she believes otherwise. She said, what we need is a sustainable and affordable filtering system. We need to inform the public about the financial and the environmental cost of bottled water and bottled drinks, and we need to make it a habit for people to use filters not just for drinking water but for the entire home. There is news about corrosive chemicals in our tap water system, from fracking, from pollution, from spills, etc. Recently, there was the Flint, Michigan scandal. Can you imagine bathing your children in those waters?! Brushing your teeth with water that can be filled with prescription drugs, contaminated with lead and rust. This is something the EPA needs to look into. But unfortunately, the current political environment is going make that quite difficult.

    I think we need to start a public awareness campaign, about how we need to treasure our fresh water supply and keeping our tap water clean. If we want people to switch from bottled water and encourage them to start using water filter, we need to have a long-term solution to the dirty tap water problem. Filters will only work as long as the main water line isn’t too dirty. We need to educate our government and the people about water sustainability. We need to invest in clean water systems and technologies. And most importantly, we need to make this solution cheaper than bottled water.