By: SEAN LEE
Each year, 373 million plastic water bottles go unrecycled, harming both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In order to combat this environmental crisis, UHS’s Eco Club plans to introduce a water bottle filler system this spring that will drastically reduce the plastic consumption of our school.
“The bottle filling systems that we purchased are more convenient and more environmentally friendly water fountains. It has a base like a regular water fountain, but it also has a built in bottle filler which pours water out vertically, making it easier for people to refill their water bottles.” said Sonia Kelly (Jr.), president of Eco Club. Additionally, these water bottle fillers feature a counting system that keeps track of how many plastic water bottles were saved by refilling at the station. Rather than purchasing disposable bottles that cause more waste, the fillers will promote more sustainable practices at school.
Although proposed in the past, the water bottle fillers have finally been acquired through hard work and fundraising. However, some logistical issues hindered the project from the very start. “The idea of water bottle fillers on the Uni Campus was brought about 5-6 years ago, but because of cuts and general school priorities, it was never fully implemented.” said Kiara Dias (Jr.), the club’s vice president.
One of the challenges that Eco Club has faced in the past four years is raising the necessary funds to purchase the fillers. As each unit is approximately $1800, Eco Club has been laboriously fundraising by collecting plastic water bottles on campus and taking them to a recycling plant. They also sought support from ASB. “ASB was generous enough to help us out in our final push to be able to purchase 4 bottle fillers so that they can be distributed throughout the campus.” said Kelly.
Even after the funds had been raised, vendor issues further hindered the purchase of the water bottle fillers. Many vendors had high shipping costs or changes regarding product availability, both of which caused Eco Club to switch vendors even after the final approval. “Ultimately, we were able to find a vendor with reasonable prices that sold bottle filling stations that had all the features we wanted: indoor and outdoor stations, vandal resistance, and different sizes,” said Sonia.
Eco Club has predicted that the water bottle fillers will have a very positive and widespread impact on the school. As many students and visiting sport teams will likely use the water fillers, the utilization of these fillers will reduce plastic waste.
Though the club has reached its four year goal of bringing fillers to campus, it has even greater plans for the future. “We do want to keep the momentum and continue to fund and implement environmentally sustainable activities throughout University High School” said Dias. For example, Eco club has begun to integrate the AP Environmental Science curriculum in club activities to further educate students and promote change.