Creating Green Initiatives and New Long Term Traditions
Challenge: to reduce the amount of disposable plastic waste from water bottles being purchased and disposed of at the school that end up in landfill and to educate students on the negative environmental impact of plastic waste.
Solution: the installation of a Water Refill Station and Drinking Fountain with a green ticker to measure the number of plastic bottles saved from landfill.
Result: an increase in the number of students carrying reusable water bottles to refill at the Water Station and a decrease in the amount of plastic waste produced by the school.
Cheltenham Girls’ High School is a comprehensive High School for girls situated in the leafy suburb of Cheltenham in Sydney’s North West. It was established in 1958 on the former residential estate of the Vicars family who are linked to the early history of Parramatta.
Miss Bessie Mitchell, the founding principal was awarded an MBE for her services to education and following her death in September 1998 she is still remembered as an inspirational figure and vital part of the school’s history.
The school values the strong partnership between staff, students and parents which emphasizes the importance of open and regular communication and current students continue to strengthen the schools culture whilst creating new traditions and initiatives as well.
In 2014, the Student Green Team Leadership Group saw a need to reduce the amount of plastic disposable water bottles being purchased and thrown away. The environmental impact of this plastic waste is vast. Not only does the plastic end up in landfill, but also in the oceans and waterways where it is killing the bird and marine life because they mistake it for food.
It takes an average of 450 years for a disposable plastic bottle to breakdown so every plastic bottle saved from landfill helps the environment. In Australia over the period of one year, the manufacturing of plastic bottled water generates more greenhouse gas emissions than 13,000 cars do in the same time. This is as a result of electricity and fuels being used for water extraction, transportation, refrigeration, recycling, disposal and manufacturing. It is also expensive with Australians spending over $500,000,000 a year on bottled water when the quality of tap water is excellent. One bottle of purchased water can cost $2.50 for 500 ml compared to a few cents per liter of tap water.
Working towards the goal of providing students with free good quality chilled drinking water, the Green Team looked for a sustainable solution that was best suited to the school’s needs.
The aquafilUS range of Water Refill Stations and Drinking Fountains offers a wide range of units to choose from. As well as being wheelchair accessible, the units have a range of optional features, such as water meters to track usage, filtered or non-filtered options and display panels that can be used for artwork, advertising or displaying notices and messages.
The wheelchair accessible wall mounted water refill station and drinking fountain best suited the schools requirements offering chilled water, hands free automatic bottle refilling with a 20 second shut off timer, soft mouth guard drinking fountain, anti-bacterial protection and a green ticker that records how many bottles have been saved from landfill.
The installation of the water refill station and drinking fountain has helped encourage both staff and students to refill their own drink bottles instead of purchasing bottled water whilst also increasing awareness of the negative impact plastic waste has on the environment. It also helps encourage students to drink more water by giving them easy access to an unlimited supply of fresh chilled drinking water which has a positive and healthy impact.
This has been a great result for the Cheltenham Green Team Leadership Group who has reduced the amount of plastic waste produced by the school whilst providing free chilled drinking water creating a WIN WIN situation for the environment and the school community.