Last fall, Wellesley High School became the first building in the Wellesley Public Schools to feature water bottle-refilling stations, with one installed in its cafeteria and one later set up near its athletic locker rooms. Upham Elementary School now joins the high school in their addition of green technologies by installing one of its own stations in August.
Made by Elkay, the water bottle-filling stations used by the district are mounted into the wall at the previous location of a water fountain in a given location. The station, in addition to providing a water fountain function and cooling water, also includes a downward water dispenser that leaves room to hold a water bottle beneath. This setup makes it easier for students to refill their reusable water bottles in place of using single-use, disposable plastic bottles.
The third of the district’s water bottle-filling stations, Upham’s apparatus has filled the equivalent of 2,270 plastic water bottles in only seven weeks of use. The high school has experienced similar success in their two water bottle filling stations, the one at the locker rooms having saved over 24,429 plastic water bottles to date, while the cafeteria’s has saved over 18,329.
The Wellesley High School (WHS) Green Team hopes these numbers keep increasing and envision putting a refilling station on every floor. “The number of plastic bottles being saved is really indicative of the tremendously positive way these machines have been received by the school community,” said Keenan Ashbrook, a member of the WHS Green Team. “They are a common sense solution for students who choose to use water bottles to keep hydrated.”
This month, the WHS Green Team applied for a grant from Wellesley Education Foundation under the Ruth Walter Environment fund to allocate monies towards additional water bottle-filling stations at the high school, ideally including one on each floor of the building. The grant application also included plans for educating high school students about the effects of using plastic water bottles versus reusable ones.
In the spring, the WHS Green Team also hosted a water bottle design contest, planning to sell water bottles imprinted with the winning design throughout the community. They hope to promote the new water bottles in conjunction with the filling stations to generate a shift towards more conscientious choices surrounding water bottle use at the high school and beyond.
“Anything we can do to transition away from plastic water bottles is worth the effort,” said Ashbrook. “Reusable water bottles are a clear alternative to the continued use of wasteful products in our schools and community.”
(Matthew Hornung & Olivia Gieger)