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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fill ‘er up! Bottle refilling stations reduce plastic in landfills, promote healthy hydration

Ben Swanson, a junior at Henry Clay High School, noted how the refilling station's digital counter trips twice when he fills a 32-ounce bottle. (Photo from FCPS)


 

By Tammy Lane
Special to KyForward
 

The Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council’s latest project is already making a splash in Fayette County schools.
 

Bottle refilling stations installed on two water fountains per high school encourage students to bring reusable containers and thereby cut down on plastic in landfills. In the first week, more than 3,600 containers were filled in the five public high schools, and usage has increased since early February.
 

“By just bringing a reusable water bottle, every single student can impact sustainability,” said Marie Armbruster, a junior at Lafayette High School. “This is just a start, but it empowers students to make the small changes that collectively will result in a major impact on our local solid waste.”
 

The BYSC is an environmental advocacy group made up of 30 students from public and private high schools in Lexington. Among their various initiatives are leading energy audits in the main office building of Fayette County Public Schools, working with elementaries to promote rain gardens and hosting an Earth Day celebration.
 

Each FCPS high school's cafeteria has a bottle refilling station and second one was installed in another high-traffic area. (Photo from FCPS)

“Our student ambassadors take ideas and turn them into tangible projects,” said BYSC facilitator Roshnee Raithatha, a senior at Henry Clay High School.
 

For instance, Marie researched the possibilities of bottle refilling stations and led the council subcommittee that secured a $6,400 donation from Kentucky American Water Company.
 

“This partnership also has the potential to bring about important health benefits since the stations make it more convenient for young people to choose tap water over sugary juices and sodas for hydration,” said Cheryl Norton, company president.
 

Recognizing the potential, the Child Nutrition Department in FCPS contributed $1,000 for the project. And to further discourage disposable water bottles, the green teams at Lafayette and Tates Creek high schools have sold refillable bottles.
 

Superintendent Tom Shelton praised the BYSC and its leadership on environmental issues, particularly the refilling stations. “This is an example where they’ve taught us and shown us a way to make a real impact in our schools,” he said during a news conference at Lafayette.
 

For more information, contact council adviser Tresine Logsdon, the energy and sustainability curriculum coordinator for FCPS.
 

Tammy Lane is a communications specialist and website editor for Fayette County Public Schools

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