Madeline Brooks

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University celebrated Earth Day with a fair along Scholars Walk, which featured display booths and interactive demonstrations intended to inform students and faculty about sustainable practices.

One booth at the event, April 16, featured a blind taste test of generic bottled water, brand name bottled water and tap water and asked people to vote on which they preferred.

Organizers said the purpose was to show that tap water is just as good as bottled water, which can help keep plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill.

“We’ve done this several times in the past and tap water usually is the overwhelming favorite,” said Chris Johnson, Winthrop’s sustainability coordinator and organizer of the event.

According to the New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency requires more testing of tap water than the Food and Drug Administration does for bottled water.

“The EPA is regulating tap water, which is through our federal government, and so it has more regulation. It’s also a lot cleaner and the use of tap water is also a lot cheaper,” said Madison Harrison, a freshman environmental science major who worked the demonstration.

Another booth at the event featured a loom where plastic grocery bags were weaved into mats to be given to the homeless.

“Some places do not even recycle the bags anymore, so this is a great way to repurpose the bags, not only for the bags’ sake, but also for the sake of the homeless people that may be receiving the mats,” said Laura Foster, program director for volunteer and community services at Winthrop.

Students were invited to bring plastic bags and interact with the loom to see how easily the mats can be made.

Goodwill also set up a booth to encouraged students, who were moving out of their dorms at the end of the semester, to donate items they would otherwise throw away.

Johnson said his introduction to sustainability class helped him organize the Earth Day event this year.

He said he hopes people who attended will consider making some behavioral changes to be more environmentally conscious.

“It’s just about bringing attention; it’s more important now than ever to educate people (about) what is going on and kind of weed through some of that misinformation that is out there,” Johnson said.

Kevin Vinson, a student who attended the event, said he learned a lot.

“I feel like after today’s event I’m definitely going to be more conscious with how I recycle and I’m definitely on board with more progressive ways to recycle,” said Vinson, a freshman business administration major.

This was the sixth annual Earth Day fair at Winthrop and Johnson said it will continue to be held each year for the foreseeable future.