Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Daniel Macfarlane

Second Advisor

Ann Veeck

Third Advisor

Alison Swan


Distrust in tap water seems to be increasing in the United States with a consonant increase in single-use bottled water. As a result, I was intrigued to explore the behaviors and opinions of Western Michigan University (WMU) students in Kalamazoo, MI towards bottled water. Specifically, I initiated a study to examine student’s perceptions and use of tap water and bottled water. To study water consumption habits on WMU’s campus, I replicated a Purdue University study from 2011. In addition, because of the high profile of the Flint Water Crisis, particularly in Michigan, I added a section that focuses on the Flint Water Crisis. A random sample of students was invited to participate in an anonymous online survey. The survey examined current behaviors related to water consumption, perceived advantages and disadvantages of drinking tap water versus bottled water, and questions pertaining to the Flint Water Crisis. 399 surveys were completed with a mean respondent age of 19. This study revealed that, on average, students are consuming more tap water than bottled water. This study also revealed that respondents who were directly affected by the Flint Water Crisis, or knew someone who was, are less likely to trust the safety and quality of their tap water versus someone without experience of the event. Moreover, the more knowledgeable respondents were of the event, the less likely they were to trust the safety and quality of their tap water.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Included in

Marketing Commons