A hand holding a reusable water bottle.


NYU has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, and we’re going to get there by making both targeted lifestyle changes and larger systemic ones. That is why NYU, led by the Office of Sustainability, eliminated single-use water bottles on campus in 2020.

The main target is plastic water bottles. But even water in aluminum and cardboard containers will no longer be purchased using NYU funds. This is because it takes 2,000 times more energy to transport bottled water than it does to drink tap water. And New York City’s tap water is not only healthy and safe, it also has a reputation for tasting great.

Opting for Refillable Alternatives

Moving forward, you won’t see single-use water bottles on campus or at NYU events. Instead, plenty of water filling stations, where you can top off your reusable bottle, are available. And these stations, along with bike corrals, technoscrap and textile recycling spots, composting locations, and more are on NYU’s Sustainability Map. At events like lectures and festivals, pitchers and refillable dispensers are the new normal. Overall, the policy will reduce waste by over 330,000 plastic water bottles per year.

Cecil Scheib (left) and another university community member at NYU’s plastic bottle–free Welcome Day.
A row of Citi Bikes.
How to Make a Difference

Do you want to make NYU a more sustainable university? There are lots of ways to help. You can start on day one. “The first thing students should do when they get to campus is look out for sustainability events during Welcome Week,” says Cecil Scheib. He is the chief sustainability officer at NYU. “Every year, we introduce students to our programs and initiatives during fall Welcome Day. Students can also find various communities interested in sustainability and relevant topics during Club Fest.” And Welcome Day 2019 was the first time that no single-use water bottles were distributed on campus. That saved about 25,000 water bottles from entering the waste stream.

Cat has been telling NYU stories for nearly 10 years with NYU’s University Relations and Public Affairs Office of Marketing Communications and is constantly inspired by what the people of this community make real. She’s also a proud alum of the NYU MFA program in creative writing, and runs a literary magazine in her free time. When she needs to get away from words, she does work in her neighborhood gardens and parks.