Research, fund, and install hydration stations at your school so that students can conveniently fill reusable water bottles. Thanks to the students at Central High School and the Roots and Shoots Club for this action plan.

Photo by Brett Weinstein (CC-BY-SA-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

WHY WATER-BOTTLE FILLING STATIONS?

  • Climate  Refilling water bottles uses less energy. Manufacturing bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually—enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not including the oil used for transportation.
  • Justice — Access to water is a human right. Filling your own water bottle is a way to celebrate public water. You can join with communities fighting for their water rights, from Michigan to Guatemala, by boycotting bottled water companies.
  • Money — Bottled water is more expensive. “Over half of our student body is on free or reduced lunch and buying plastic water bottles for $1.50 each day is an unnecessary expense for students already on a tight budget,” said Roots and Shoots member Bryn Shank. Reusable water bottles are more cost effective and this hydration station will make them easier to use.

PROJECT STEPS

  1. Conduct a survey: Roots and Shoots Club member Maddy Frawley says, “We conducted a survey of 658 Central High School students regarding their plastic water bottle consumption habits and the total number of bottles consumed per week was 233. Applying our data to the larger student body, we calculated that about 700 plastic water bottles used weekly, which amounts to costing students $1,050 a week. Additionally, recent data suggests that only 13% of plastic water bottles are recycled. This means that 87% of those water bottles each week are sent to landfills, where they’ll stay for the many years it takes them to decompose. For Central, this means that 609 plastic bottles will be headed to landfills every week.”
  2. Raise awareness:
    • Poster: The club spread the word about both the Roots and Shoots club and the hydration station project with a poster board presented at freshman registration night.
    • Video: Broadcast a video on the school’s morning news advertising the hydration station fundraising efforts.
  3. Raise money:
    • Water bottle sales: The club’s water bottle sales at school promoted the club, encouraged the use of reusable bottles, and raised money for the project.
    • Dodgeball tournament: The club hosted a well-advertised school dodgeball tournament with a $15 entrance fee.
    • Online Fundraising: An online fundraising site for the project was publicized through social media
    • Grant Writing: With help from an environmental science teacher, Roots and Shoots leaders applied for grants through local recycling programs.
  4. Installation: After being contacted by Roots and Shoots leaders, the school district agreed to install the hydration station as soon as all the funding was in place.
  5. Encourage behavior change: Roots and Shoots organized two rounds of classroom presentations that used the hydration station as an educational opportunity. The first presentation covered waste reduction and the harm of plastic waste, and the second encouraged students to recycle.
  6. Measure Impact:
    • Tracking meter: Roots and Shoots tracked the success of their hydration station by monitoring the station’s meter, which displays the number of plastic bottles saved every month.
    • Cafeteria bottle usage: The club worked with the school cafeteria to monitor sales of plastic water bottles in the school cafeteria, which they hope will lessen after the station is installed.
  7. Celebrate: Celebrate on the school announcements! “Thanks for supporting our campaign! Together we’re saving $__ and __ lbs of plastic.” Contact everyone who signed up during your classroom visits to invite them personally to your next action.
  8. Evaluate: Reflect with your team about what went well.
  9. Publicize: Take photos throughout your project! Contact yeamn@climategen.org to tell us how it went. We’d love to feature your story on our website. Perhaps you can share the story at a school board meeting to convince them to invest in hydration stations at all their schools…With every action, you are more powerful.

INTERESTED IN TRYING THIS AT YOUR SCHOOL?

Here’s a list of possible grants to fund hydration stations.

RESOURCES

Video: The Story of Bottled Water
Video: Van Jones: The Economic Injustice of Plastic