During our 2007 Back2Tap reusable bottle campaign in our school district, we toured several of our schools to investigate the status of the school water fountains. It was shocking to find out that there is no access to tap water in some lunch rooms and numerous old water fountains in the hallways had been disabled. The perception seemed to be that they didn’t need to be fixed because students could rely on bottled water. Also, the school district makes money by selling bottled water in the cafeteria.
These images are from a Polaris Institute report on water fountains in Canadian universities: Campus Water Fountains: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but they could have been from just about any US school district.
We did a beverage survey and found out that 80% of the bottled water being consumed was coming from home. The school district didn’t stand to lose very much revenue if bottled water sales dropped, and parents stood to save money by not having to purchase bottled water. Two of our district schools were thrilled to use the funds raised by our stainless steel bottle fundraiser to purchase and install three school water coolers. Two other schools are likely to follow suit.
Back2Tap is working to replicate this model in other school districts by helping schools sell reusable stainless steel water bottles to raise money for point-of-use water coolers in school cafeterias and hallways. This is one good way to combat the trend toward limited access to drinking water in our communities.