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How about kicking off a Back2Tap campaign for your school’s Earth Day celebration on April 22?  This movement against the ridiculous wastefulness of bottled water, is gaining momentum in schools across the country.  Once students are made aware of the problem, it is easy for them to take action by drinking tap water from a reusable bottle and making their own drinks using concentrated drink mixes with tap water.  These very simple steps toward sustainability are easy for students to comprehend and feel good about. 

 

Back2Tap offers free downloadable educational resources, including a fun 9 minute video about the wastefulness of bottled water and everything you need to know about tap water, suitable for ages K-8, but guaranteed to be enlightening to high school students and adults, too. Classroom activities include making a bottle tower out of discarded disposable plastic water bottles, conducting a drinking container survey, collecting and categorizing waste for a day, and more.  These resources will raise students’ environmental awareness and their understanding of sustainability and are well suited for either an Earth Day assembly or for classroom activities.

 

The educational program can be followed up by our green fundraising campaign.  Back2Tap partners with a representative from a PTO/PTA, Boosters, faculty, or student group to sell high quality stainless steel water bottles with custom logos to members of your school community.  Do something good for the planet and for your budget with our Back2Tap campaign!  To learn more about our program, please visit Schools & Groups page on our website or contact us with any questions.

What’s in your bottled water?  A comprehensive new Environmental Working Group (EWG) report found that you really don’t have any way to know.  What’s on the labels?  Bucolic scenes of mountain streams and crystal clear lakes adorn the plastic bottles along with vague claims about the pristine source and purity of the water.  The unfortunate reality is, there is no such thing anymore.  All drinking water needs to be properly treated before it is consumed. 

EWG studied the “transparency” of 173 varieties of bottled water.  That is, they evaluated how well the bottled water companies provided information about the water’s source, purification methods and results of purity testing.  Turns out, for over half of the brands, very little is revealed about where the water came from, how it was treated, and what’s actually in it.  The bottled water companies like it this way.  They have been fighting hard against labeling even in the midst of serious public criticism for lack of accountability.

The most shocking finding was that 8 of the 10 best-selling domestic brands earned a D or an F.   So the mainstream brands (can you say Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle?) that you may have thought you could trust are resisting accountability.  What do they have to hide?  What is in their water?

In 2007, California passed a law requiring basic information on bottled water labels.  Of the 96 brands inspected there, only 24 complied with this new law.  Surprisingly, the California bottled water labels were less forthcoming than brands sold elsewhere!

If you’d like to see how your bottled water stacks up, you can visit the EWG report card.   Hopefully, your brand didn’t earn itself a place on the EWG “Shelf of Shame”!

The only A went to filtered tap water.  If you are drinking bottled water because you think it’s “better” than tap water, think again!   Unlike bottled water, tap water quality is strictly regulated.  Consumers have access to reports about their water’s source, testing protocol, and test results.   If you want to drink the best tasting, healthiest, cheapest, and most carbon-conscious drink, fill your reusable stainless steel water bottle with your own tap water, filtered if you like!

Bottled water has become so deeply entrenched in our society that some people can’t even imagine how to provide water at an event without it.  Say what?  Maybe I’m going to show my age here, but I actually remember living a good hydrated life, attending events, and even hosting events before anyone had thought of putting tap water in a disposable plastic bottle and charging 1000 times more for it!    Based on my experience BBW (before bottled water), I have come up with some ABCs for getting by without bottled water at your school with ease:  

water cooler

Access to tap water 

Provide access to drinking water throughout the school by maintaining water fountains and cleaning them daily.  Better yet, upgrade to bottle-less water coolers in the cafeteria and in hallways and install a water filter on the tap in the teachers’ lounge.  Offering chilled filtered tap water will allay concerns about the spreading of germs at the water fountains, taste of tap water, and water quality. 

Custom water bottles

Bottles that are reusable 

Request that students, teachers, parents, and other visitors to the school bring their own reusable bottles or mugs to school each day and to all special events. Consider having a reusable bottle fundraiser or simply issuing school water bottles to every student.  Custom stainless steel water bottles with the school logo are a big hit with students.  Monies raised can be used to fund water coolers! 

Containers for serving 

Pitchers filled from the faucet or from water coolers can be used to serve tap water to students in their class rooms.  Large portable coolers filled with the help of a pitcher can be used to dispense tap water at large gatherings.  For those who forget their reusable bottles, it is important to have some biodegradable disposable cups on hand and a recycling bin to collect them. 

 

Pitcher
Portable cooler

Bottle free bliss

All in all, becoming a bottle free school is not as daunting as it sounds.  Life was good BBW!  Putting the ABCs in place is easier and cheaper than you’d expect.  The key to getting cooperation from the entire community will be establishing and communicating a school-wide bottled water policy and letting everyone know you’ve got the ABCs covered.

You’ll be glad you did because eliminating bottled water at your school will simplify planning and clean up for events, reduce the volume of waste, save parents money, model a sustainable lifestyle for students, as well as reap significant environmental benefits for everyone. 

Aren’t you tired of being asked to buy wrapping paper, candy, popcorn, cookie dough, or magnets at your children’s schools? The offerings are often way overpriced, useless, or just plain bad tasting. Last fall, when I was trying to figure out what sort of environmental project to do at my son’s school, the PTO president complained to me about the girl scouts drinking bottled water at their meetings and how great it would be if they would use reusable bottles. It was like a lightening strike in my mind. YES! That is exactly what we need – reusable school water bottles for everyone!

We convinced the PTO to sell custom stainless steel water bottles school-wide and make it a green fundraiser. Before it was all said and done, it was a town-wide school fundraiser, involving seven schools – the first one of its kind in town. We decided to price the bottles close to retail prices to keep them affordable and still generate some profit for the school. We ended up selling 1500 bottles to a school population of 3500 students and raising over $8000! This was truly something novel: we sold something useful and earth-friendly while raising money for the school. A win – win – win!

This week I got an email asking parents to donate food and bottled water for the high school marching band tailgate party at the state championships.  I jumped in and said no need for bottled water – I’ll bring tap water in coolers for everyone!   Back2Tap has one 5 gallon cooler, but I realized that would not be enough.   I was impressed to learn that the marching band has two of their own that I could borrow.   But then, my mellophone-playing son did the math.   If they were planning on 8 cases of bottled water for 100 people (nearly 2 per person), that’s 8 x 24 bottles /case x 17 oz/bottle or 3264 oz of water.   That’s 25 gallons!    Woops, better borrow another cooler in order to have at least have 20 gallons.   I figured that would be enough since people would be filling their cups with the exact amount they wanted, and there wouldn’t be any waste like with bottled water.   In fact, I expected there would be a lot leftover, but because we had a warm, 70 degree day in late October (notice the shorts!), we drank nearly all 20 gallons!  So if you want to reduce your use of disposable plastic at parties or on the road, I’d go with a conversion rate of one 5 gallon cooler of tap water to replace 2 cases of bottled water.  

In addition to reducing waste, we also saved money serving tap water out of coolers.   Including a bag of ice for each cooler and cups, I spent $22.   Eight cases of bottled water would have cost around $32.    I spurged and added gatorade mix ($8.00) to one of the 5 gallon coolers.  An equivalent number of individually packaged servings of gatorade would have cost around $52.  Using the mix was a huge savings – and they loved it!   Now, if only I could get everyone to recycle the cups!  

For more ideas about going bottle free, visit our Bottle Free Events page.