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Last June, math teacher and director of sustainability Kevin Merges arranged for the seniors at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, New Jersey to get a surprise under their chairs at

RPS single bottle cropped

Sustainable Future bottles.

their graduation ceremony.  Seniors quenched their thirst from reusable bottles filled with tap water instead of bottled water during the ceremony.   Merges noticed in prior years that dozens of water bottles were only partially empty.  Mary Ganzenmuller, Vice President of the Board of Trustee worked with Merges to find this sustainable solution for the event.   Provided by Back2Tap, the stainless steel bottles were customized with the school logo and the words: Rutgers Preparatory School – A Sustainable Future.  According to Merges, the students were thrilled with their reusable bottles and plan to carry them proudly as they go forth toward their sustainable futures.

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Seniors with their reusable bottles.Sustainable Future bottles.

It always feels good when a Back2Tap campaign at a school goes right. I was so psyched to hear that the reusable bottles and bottle-less water coolers were well received by the K-12 students at Lincoln – Hubbard School in Summit, NJ. So well, in fact, the students are lining up in the hallway to fill up their custom reusable bottles from Back2Tap. The kids say that they love the tap water because it is so cold and refreshing.

students refilling their reusable water bottles

students refilling their reusable water bottles

Bottle-less coolers are tied directly into the water line and provide cold, filtered tap water without the waste, expense and exposure to plastics found with traditional water coolers with the 5 gallon jugs that have to be delivered. Although Back2Tap does not sell bottle-less water coolers, we can recommend a manufacturer. Lincoln – Hubbard was able to use the profits from their stainless steel bottle fundraiser toward the purchase of the coolers. Best of all, this is one green initiative that will save the school money and the parents money while benefitting students health and ability to learn.

It was a true pleasure to get a phone call from Susan Murray, parent and owner of Waste Not Solutions of Little Silver, NJ. She described a community that wanted to take a proactive step and invest some of its precious Environmental Commission dollars in the community’s children and schools.

Led by Rosemary Brewer, the Little Silver Environmental Commission graciously donated 1000 custom, stainless steel water bottles to the students and staff at Point Road and Markham Place schools in New Jersey. The commission’s goal was to help students reduce the number of disposable plastic water bottles they use and to make a positive impact on the environment.

The school created additional enthusiasm for the program by holding a logo design contest for the students. The winner was rewarded with their logo on the schools’ bottles. The result is a fantastic graphic. Bravo Little Silver!

Back2Tap reusable steel bottles

Back2Tap reusable steel bottles

Back2Tap reusable stainless steel bottles

Back2Tap reusable stainless steel bottles

What do reusable bottles have to do with the flu? These days, everything seems to be peripherally related to flu, but aside from that, a Baxter Bulletin article yesterday reports that one principal is attributing low absenteeism rates with the use of reusable bottles.

Principal Randi Connior of Yellville-Summit Elementary in Arkansas noted that only 4% of her students were absent on Tuesday. Many districts are reporting absentee rates of 14-20% and higher. Every student at her elementary school has a reusable water bottle so students don’t have to use the water fountains in the hallways. “If you’ve ever watched kids drink from a school fountain,” she said, “you’ll usually see them sucking on it.” Students have been issued a reusable water bottle every year since principal Connior noticed a drop in absenteeism during a boil-water advisory when the water fountains were not being used.

When I searched “school water fountain hygiene” on-line, I found out that there are plenty of schools who have zeroed in on water fountains as a likely culprit for spreading contagious disease. In Charlestown, West Virginia, some Kanawha elementary principals have called school health officials about banning water fountain use as a way to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus according to a Charleston Gazette article.

In their guide to avoiding infections when returing to schools this fall, the National Jewish Health website explicitly warns: “Water fountains can be the enemy. Take a reusable water bottle to school, instead of using the school water fountain, which may become contaminated with germs, especially during cold and flu season.”

I’m heartened to find that the solution of choice is reusable bottles, a very eco-friendly response, rather bottled water with all its associated wastefulness. Custom reusable bottles are readily available for bulk purchase with a quick turnaround time from Back2Tap for any school or parent group who would like to take this step toward keeping children healthy as this perilous flu season gets underway.

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