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Environmental Education Initiative:

Strategic Plan to phase out plastic


water bottles in schools
Sustainable Water Management
[ENVR 4000 T01]

Help preserve
Manitobas water by
using refillable water
bottles

GROUP MEMBERS:
Jamie McMaster
Marissa Robitaille
Melinda Kin
Sabina Mastrolonardo

University of Manitoba
Clayton H. Riddell
Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources
Department of Environment and Geography
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments .....................................................................................................................................................2
Executive Summary ..................................................................................................................................................3
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................6
Project goals and objectives .................................................................................................................................7

Part One: Background..............................................................................................................................................8


1.1. Overview: Plastic water bottles ............................................................................................................8
1.2. Environmental impact of plastic waste .............................................................................................8
1.3. Bottled water is an irrational consumer product .........................................................................9

Part Two: 16 versus 20 Bottle Challenge .................................................................................................... 10


2.1 Project description .................................................................................................................................... 10
2.2 School profile ............................................................................................................................................... 11
2.3. Project elements ........................................................................................................................................ 11
Prezi presentation software ............................................................................................................ 11
Refillable Bottles ................................................................................................................................... 12
Youtube Video ........................................................................................................................................ 12
Incentives ................................................................................................................................................. 13
Marketing/Promotion ........................................................................................................................ 14
Language ................................................................................................................................................... 15
Chart / daily tally .................................................................................................................................. 16
Blind Taste Test ..................................................................................................................................... 19
Teachers Feedback ............................................................................................................................. 20
Results, observation, student feedback ..................................................................................... 21
2.4. Project specific challenges .................................................................................................................... 23

Part Three: Suggestions to improve water fountains in schools ..................................................... 26


3.1. Water fountains ......................................................................................................................................... 26
3.2. Refillable Water Stations ....................................................................................................................... 28

Appendixes ................................................................................................................................................................ 30
References .................................................................................................................................................................. 32

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Acknowledgments

The authors of this document would like to recognise the following people who have been
essential in contributing valuable input to the contents of this document:

Dr Rick Baydack; University of Manitoba


Don Sexton; Project Coordinator; Manitoba Water Council
Tom Ethans; Executive Director; Take Pride Winnipeg
Christina McDonald; Chief Operating Officer; Green Manitoba
Amanda Tetrault; Room 16 Science; cole River Heights Schools
Kyle Spencer; Room 20 Science; cole River Heights School
Ian Hall, Office of Sustainability Director; University of Manitoba
Karen J. Scott; Programs Coordinator; Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium

The authors of this document would like to thank Tom Ethans and Christina McDonald,
for sponsoring the refillable bottles that were used for this project.

Figure 1: Refillable water bottles provided by: (left)


Take Pride and (right) Green Manitoba Photo taken
by Sabina Mastrolonardo 2014

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Executive Summary

The goal of this assignment was to create an educational initiative to promote better
sustainable water management in schools. The purpose of this document is to design a
strategy to phase out the presence of the single-use disposable bottled water from the
classroom.

Our main objectives are to; [1] reduce the amount of plastic waste headed to landfills, [2]
spread environmental awareness through environmental education with a practical
activity that could be monitored, measured, and studied and lastly [3] promote the smart
choice to drink tap water over drinking bottled water.

Overall the water bottle project demonstrated:


How students could be eco-friendly.
The amount of water and plastic waste the students could reduce through small
gestures like bringing refillable water bottles instead of using plastic bottles.
How to improve our knowledge on the environment and the lasting impacts of
human actions.
How tap water can be the affordable and environmentally friendlier choice to
drink water.

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This document is divided into three parts

Background

This section provides information about how; plastic is harmful to the environment
(through the generation of waste, pollution and harmful by-products), how plastic could
potentially adversely affect human health (as a result of chemical leeching) and lastly how
the bottled water industry takes advantages of ill-informed consumers in the biggest
scam of the century (through the 200 1000 % markup in the final retail price).

16 vs. 20 Bottle Challenge

This section is a report on our experience with cole River Heights School. A pilot
program was carried out in two English Science seventh grade classes during the month
of March 2014, and the earliest weeks of April 2014. This challenge was to encourage
students to participate in an in-class environment initiative where they were asked to use
refillable water bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles for twenty one days. Students
who brought their bottles to school were recorded on a chart. Between the two classes a
total of 637 disposable bottles was saved (assuming that one plastic bottle was
substituted by a refillable alternative). Overall Class 16 had a 50.86% success rate
(267/525) whereas Class 20 had a 65.26% success rate (370/567). Class 20 won the
challenge.

Project description
This program was run for twenty one days (accounting only for the Monday to Friday
school week days). Refillable water bottles were provided to each student in each
classroom. For twenty one days, students were encouraged to use the refillables instead
of disposable plastic bottles. The number of refillable bottles it to be recorded on a daily
basis.

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Project elements
Significant consideration was given to how the message of conservation was to be
communicated to the students. Some of these considerations included; the medium for
communication (Prezi and Youtube), the language and tone of the message, incentives
(new bottles and Tim Horton Timbits) and motivations (existing rivalry) for the
students.

Project specific challenges


Some concerns were raised during the duration and at the end of the 16 vs 20 Bottle
Challenge. These challenges included the concerns over cleanliness of the bottles;
keeping students motivated, encountering bias in the results, the packaging and bottle
materials and lastly compatibility with the current curriculum.

Suggestions for water fountains in schools

Water fountains in school would be the primary source for drinking water for students;
therefore it is imperative that school buildings be frequently and regularly maintained to
their optimal level of cleanliness, effectiveness and efficiency. Pipe conditions affect the
quality, cleanliness, clarity, health and safety of public drinking water. Gooseneck
fixtures (a drink spout with an extended neck) could be added to fountains so that it
would make it easier to fill water bottles. Ideally drinking water should be at a cool and
refreshing temperature. This can be achieved by installing cooling stations to water
fountains.

Refillable water stations could be described as high-tech upgraded water fountains


designed specifically for refilling water bottle. These units pour chilled and filtered water
directly in to the bottle. A unique feature; that is found on some models, is the digital
counter. This counter calculates the water that is drawn from the fountain and displays
how many plastic water bottles have been saved from being used. The only downside
attributed to these refill stations is that they are fairly expensive to purchase and install.

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Introduction

Consumerism and convenience epitomises the modern lifestyle. The single-use plastic
bottle embodies that consumerism and convenience; it is cheap, readily available, it
comes in a variety of choices and sizes, it is sourced from different places and it goes too
far reaching spaces. But like other consequences of capitalist ailments, plastic bottles
demonstrate the short term mindedness of modern consumerist behaviour. Readily used
without any regards to the long term implications and consequences it has on the natural
environment.

Tap water is just as good, if not better than its bottled form. This document will propose a
plan to promote tap water over bottled water by spreading environmental awareness
creating an environmental educational opportunity to change this behaviour. Where
better to start than with the youngest and most impressionable consumers.

Figure 2: Images that depicts the magnitude of


plastic waste generated from single-use
disposible plastic bottles (Jordan, 2007).

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Project goals and objectives

The goal of this proposal was to design a plan to phase out the presence of the single-use
disposable bottled water from the classroom.

Our main objectives are to:


Reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills
Spread environmental awareness
Promote tap water over bottled water

Our group would like to reduce the number of disposable bottles that ends up in
Winnipegs landfill. We believe that one can make a difference through small gestures and
actions. It is hoped that the impact of this project will have far reaching positive
consequences that extend beyond the initial thirty days. This was a unique and interactive
way to address the water use, water quality and pollution problem that results disposable
plastic water bottles. Most importantly this was an opportunity to teach the students the
worth of water. It was hoped that by kids just being kids, they would take pride in their
new water bottles and talk about them and show them off to their friends and family
members.

Overall the water bottle project demonstrated:


How students could be eco-friendly.
The amount of water and plastic waste could be reduced through small gestures
such as bringing their refillable water bottles in a one month.
How to improve our knowledge on the environment and the lasting impacts of
human actions.

How tap water could be the more affordable and environmentally friendly choice
to drink water.

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Part One: Background

1.1. Overview: Plastic water bottles


Trying to find a way to conveniently transport water has been an age old problem for
human kind. Even in todays society the issue of how to personally transport and consume
water is a major issue especially with regards to the environment. Plastic became the
material that proved to have many beneficial malleability qualities; it could be melted and
formed into various shapes. In 1942, one of the very first plastic bottles was created out of
a polyethylene material and was thought to be the answer for transporting water. Since
then, the dependency on plastic has grown dramatically and is now a material used in a
great variety of goods.

Through smart advertising, marketing companies can take a relative free and accessible
resource like water and put it in plastic bottles to sell to consumers at a profit. Advertising
pushed the public into purchasing bottled water by creating the impression that bottled
water was a healthier and convenient way to consume water. The response from
consumers was positive which in turn allowed the whole bottled water industry to
skyrocket. What was once was only a beverage phenomenon in the United States of
America; the bottled water industry has entered nearly every market in the world,
spreading plastic water bottles to local, national and global scales. In 2011, the estimated
global consumption of bottled water was nearly 61.4 billion gallons, which was an 8.6%
increase from 2010 (John G. Rodwan, 2011).

1.2. Environmental impact of plastic waste


The constant rise in plastic bottle consumption is not something the world should be
proud of due to the numerous issues surrounding the bottled water industry and negative
environmental impacts that they cause.

The environmental degradation that takes place after the consumption of plastic bottles
may be viewed as one of the biggest environmental concerns. Every time a disposable

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water bottle is used, there is no guarantee that it will be recycled. If a plastic bottle does
not make it to the recycling process it ends up elsewhere and may take up to 450 years to
begin to break down and disintegrate. For example in Toronto, a city that consumes an
estimated 100 million plastic bottles a year; 35% of plastic bottles used did not get
recycled and ended up in landfills, forests, lakes and oceans. It is quite the lengthy process
to decompose in the environment as it takes approximately 100-1000 years to fully
disintegrate into its molecular elements. In other words, plastic stays around forever (York
University, 2013).

Once the plastic begins the decomposition process (through time and the exposure to
heat), chemicals such as Styrene Trimer and Bisphenol A (BPA) can be released from
the bottle in to the environment. These chemicals are very harmful for example BPA has
been shown to interfere with the reproductive systems of animals, whilst Styrene
Monomer is a suspected carcinogen (Barry, 2009). There may be other negative effects that
plastic poses to the environment but due to the fact that it takes hundreds of years to
degrade it is nearly impossible to study the long term impact plastic has on the
environment.

1.3. Bottled water is an irrational consumer product


Copious amounts of studies have shown that plastic water bottles are not only bad for the
environment and bad for human health the industry itself exploits its consumers. When
purchasing one bottle of water the consumer ends up paying 240 to 10,000 times more
than municipal tap water whereas tap water is brought right to the home at a fraction of
the price (1 cent/ litre). This could be considered one of the highest mark ups of any
product available to a consumer which is why it is ridiculous that people continue to
purchase bottled water. Many people would even agree that the bottled water industry is
simply a scam to exploit ill informed consumers. Furthermore plastic bottles could
adversely affect human health; studies have shown that significant concentrations of
contaminants such as arsenic, bromide, bacteria and lead can be been found in bottled
water samples (York University, 2013).

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Part Two: 16 versus 20 Bottle Challenge

2.1 Project description


This program was run for thirty days (accounting only for the Monday to Friday school
week days). Refillable water bottles were provided to each student in each classroom. The
intention for these refillable bottles is so that the students had a means to get water from
a tap/fountain instead of bringing non-refillable disposable bottled water from home or
buying bottled water from elsewhere.

This challenge encouraged students to participate in an in-class environment initiative.


For twenty one days, students were encouraged to use the refillables instead of
disposable plastic bottles. The numbers of refillable bottles were tracked/recorded on a
daily basis.

2.1.1 Presenting at River Heights School:


On March 7th 2014 our group conducted two separate presentations to each classroom.
The presentation was started by asking the students if they could answer what the word
sustainability meant, many students were eager to respond. Throughout our presentation
students were asked to raise their hand to answer questions regarding water quality
issues and plastic pollution. For the students who attempted an answer, they received
water saving kit prizes. Through our conversation we tried to communicate the message
that; living sustainably meant that we, as human beings, should leave the world a better
place (by taking no more than what is needed) and lastly to try not to harm the
environment. Whichever classroom brought their refillable water bottles to class the most
over the twenty one days would be declared the winner.

On April 7th 2014 our group returned to classes 16 and 20, to collect the date, interact
with the students, to announce a winner and most importantly receive feedback
(thoughts and opinions) from the students. Their feedback can be found on page 22 of this
document under the section; Results, observation, student feedback.

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2.2 School profile

cole River Heights School


1350 Grosvenor Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 0P2
Phone: 204-488-7090
Fax: 204-488-6421
Email: river_heights@wsd1.org

Figure 3: cole River Height School (Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 2013)

cole River Heights School is a middle year school in the City of Winnipeg. cole River
Heights is part of the South District of the Winnipeg School Division. The school building
itself was built in 1947/1948. Currently, the school serves grade seven and grade eight
students, with approximately 490 students enrolled (cole River Heights School, 2014).

2.3. Project elements


Prezi presentation software
Prezi Inc. is a cloud-based (internet/online) presentation software. Prezi could be
described as a virtual whiteboard that creates a visual flow of pictures and narratives.

Figure 4: Screen shot


of Prezi presentation

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The Prezi presentation involved slides with writing and slides with pictures. Pictures
provide a visual aid to help make the message of
conservation more relatable for example; a
picture showed the disastrous impact plastic
waste had on the environment (figure 5) which
was shown during/after the discussions around
environmental pollution. Other pictures
included a large accumulation of discarded

Figure 5: Turtle caught in a plastic ring plastic water bottles. The main message that we
(Becci, 2012)
tried to communicate was to get the students to
understand impracticality of plastic waste.
Other slides of the Prezi presentation can be found in Appendix A. of this document.

Refillable Bottles
The two classrooms received different water bottles; a blue plastic refillable bottle and a
green aluminum refillable bottle (figure 1). Concerns were raised about the students
being picky about which bottles they received or if they preferred the other bottle. To
address these concerns the choice of bottles were randomly assigned to the classes, this
was done to eliminate any bias or upset feelings over the difference in the water bottles.
Our group took careful care to not show the students the water bottles until the end of the
presentation and they did not get to see what the other class received until the end of the
class period.

Youtube Video
A clever and informative Youtube Video; A Skwirl's Eye View - Bottle VS Tap (2010) was
shown to the students, this three minute video highlighted many reasons as to why and
how the bottled water inevitably is an irrational consumer choice. This video was created
by Canadian comedian, activist, actor and writer; Derek Forgie as part of the Bottled
Water Free Day Canada campaign. Although the video itself was a few years old, the
value and message the video conveyed was still relevant.

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This video was chosen because our group felt that the students would be more interested
in subject of bottled water if they could relate to a fun non-traditional medium.

The message of the A Skwirl's Eye View - Bottle VS Tap (2010) video, was to
demonstrate how bottled water was not superior to tap water, in fact it proved to be
more inferior to tap water. According to Derek Forgie, single-use plastic bottles are
inferior due to four reasons; [1] the difference in price (between tap water and
commercialised water), [2] chemical leaching, [3]the plastic bottle itself and the common
place of plastic as a packaging choice, [4]the external unaccounted energy costs that come
from manufacturing, transportation and packaging. Studies have shown that, despite the
labels that boasts that the water is purified and mineral-enriched, bottled water is
actually neither healthy nor pure; in fact, bottled water may be less healthy than regular
tap water because of the chemical additives, bacteria, and even fertilizer runoff.

Incentives
To encourage participation in the challenge, we built on the rivalry that had previously
existed between the two classes. Upon meeting with Amanda Tetrault and Kyle Spencer,
we learned that the two classes had a history of competing with each other in a good
natured way.

During the first presentation the competition between the two classrooms and a prize for
the winner was strongly emphasized. This was a successful incentive to get the students
excited about the challenge and to use their water bottles every day. What helped to
encourage the students to participate in the project, were the new refillable bottles that
were provided to each student.

Our group discussed many possible rewards to offer the students as a way of encouraging
them to participate in the water bottle challenge. At the end it was decided that Tim
Hortons Timbits would be given to all of the students, (not just the winning class), as a
way of thanking the students for their participation and enthusiasm.

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Marketing/Promotion
In the one class (class 16) students were strongly encouraged to really try their best to
bring their refillable water bottles every day. For classroom 20 the same presentation was
done, but no further encouragement was given to the students.

While we were brainstorming about what to do for our project we struggled over the idea
of what exactly it was we were promoting; water and environmental conservation or to
use refillable water bottles because they are better for the environment. It was decided
that we were going to promote environment awareness on the issue of refillable water
bottles and the negative effects plastic has on the environment. We also looked at plastic
waste, production of water bottles, and the quality of drinking water within the water
bottles themselves.

During the first presentation we told both classes that the winner of the water bottle
challenge would receive a prize. We hoped that by telling them there was a reward at the
end would get them excited about our project and involved in the water bottle challenge
idea. The preexisting good natured rivalry that existed between the two classes proved to
also be a strong and good motivation to win.

We contemplated the idea of having a Facebook poster contest. The purpose of the
Facebook group page was to provide a creative outlet for the students to present their
knowledge of water sustainability. We decided against this idea because the Facebook age
restrictions did not make this idea feasible as well as the availability of time to set up the
page and advertise the page to the students.

Before deciding on a Prezi, we created a 30 second short animation clip about conserving
water to show to the students but it was eventually decided that the animation would be
too childish for seventh graders.

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Language
Given that our main audience for this project was a group of students between the ages of
12-13 year olds the kind of language needed to be assessed. Our group needed to ensure
that ideas were communicated clearly but in a manner that would keep students
interested but not lose the important environment message that underlies the whole
assignment.

It was not known beforehand how much the students had covered in their science classes;
about the Earth or the water system a presentation was created and planned with the
assumption that the students had little to no prior water knowledge. Technical and
complicated environmental jargon was avoided. Instead the in-class presentations
focused on concepts and ideas that a 12-13 year old could comprehend. For example; for
the discussion about water pollution, words such as leeching or contamination were
avoided but instead these concepts were substituted with words like pollution, unsafe,
and unclean.

Another important aspect of the in-class presentations is tone. We had to make sure that
we sounded excited about our project and the challenge. It was imperative that we
adopted a convincing tone regarding the importance of learning about such issues. We
wanted to present the information on why water bottles are not an Earth friendly choice
and all of the effects in a way that did not scare the students.

When the results were presented, students were shown how many water bottles were
physically saved during the project instead of showing the results in terms of liters or
percentages. Presentation of the data in this form, made it easier for students to
understand how their actions had a positive impact on the environment. Because of the
students ages, communicating the results in this way would allow them to see and
understand how much plastic they had saved in a way that was easy for them to visualize.

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Chart / daily tally

Day Class 16 (25 Bottles) Class 20 (27 Bottles)


1 25 27
2 17 13
3 17 17
4 17 20
5 17 18
6 11 19
7 11 20
8 11 19
9 17 17
10 11 18
11 10 15
12 11 17
13 11 18
14 11 18
15 11 16
16 12 15
17 8 14
18 7 17
19 10 18
20 10 17
21 12 17

Figure 6: Tally count for Class 16 and Class 20 over 21 days (Monday - Friday only)

* Numbers in red are average values to substitute the days that had
no/missing tallies.

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A chart (appendix B) was provided to each classroom to record the number of refillables
that were brought to school each day. The chart also recorded the number of disposable
bottles that the students used. Below is a graph that plots the progress of each class over a
21 day period. Because of the difference in class sizes the below graph is a reflection of the
class performance measured as a percentage (#refillable brought/#refillables distributed).

Figure 7: Graph to illustrate the progress of Class 16 (blue) and Class 20 (red) over a 21 day period
80%
(#refillable brought/#refillables distributed)

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Figure 8: Histogram to illustrate the frequency and distribution of figure 5s values.

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Frequency distribution
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 26-30

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Two classrooms participated in this program:
Room 16: Ms. Amanda Tetrault`s English Science class with 25 Students
Room 20: Mr. Kyle Spencer`s English Science class 27 Students.

The results were as follows (figures 6, 7 and 8):

Over a 21 day period, if each student of each class had brought their bottles every day,
they would have saved a total of at least 1092 disposable bottles (assuming that at
least one plastic bottle was substituted for the refillable alternative). Between the two
classes a total of 637 disposable bottles was saved.

Over 21 days, Class 16 brought the equivalent of 267 bottles


On average of 12.75 plastic bottles were saved over 21 days.
Overall Class 16 had a 50.86% success rate (267/525).
The most number of bottles brought by Class 16 was 17 (68%).
The least number of bottles brought by Class 16 was 7 (28%)

Over 21 days, Class 20 brought the equivalent of 370 bottles.


On average 17.68 plastic bottles were saved over 21 days.
Overall Class 20 had a 65.26% success rate (370/567).
The most number of bottles brought by Class 20 was 20 (74.07%)
The least number of bottles brought by Class 20 was 13 (48.15%)

At the start of the challenge, both classes exhibited a strong positive inclination to
bring bottles to school but over time they start to lose interest this is particular
evident after the Spring Break (after day 17). From the graph and the chart one can
see that student interests start to waiver as more time progress.

Overall Class 20 was the better performing class but if one looks at the overall
accumulated distribution of the number of bottles brought to school (figure 6), a
significant number (values between 16 and 20) of bottles were being brought to and
from school between the two classes.

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Blind Taste Test
To determine if the students could/would be able to differentiate between regular tap
water and bottled plastic water, a blind taste test was conducted. Taste is one of the
senses that would strongly influence a students preference. Each sample was poured
from two identical non-descript plastic bottles. A sample of each water type was
presented in small identical cups, labeled A and B. Each sample had to be the same
temperature and had to have no visual differences. Prior to the tasting, the students were
not told the source of each sample.

4 to 5 students volunteered from each class and the results were as follows:

16s results:
2/5 students correctly identified tap water from plastic water
2/5 students were unsure
1/5 student incorrectly identified tap water from plastic water
4/5 students said that they preferred tap water from plastic water
1 student said that they preferred plastic bottled water.
1 student noted that the bottled water from plastic bottle had a distinctive
plastic after-taste (tastes plastic-y).

18s results:
3/4 students correctly identified tap water from plastic water
1/4 student incorrectly identified tap water from plastic water
4/4 students said they preferred tap water from plastic water.
3 Students said that they preferred the water to be colder

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Teachers Feedback
To gain a better understanding of which project elements were successful and more
importantly, how this program could be improved Amanda Tetrault was interviewed.
Although the pilot program was executed in both classes, only Amanda Tetrault could be
reached at the time.

The conversation went as followed:

Water Group: What did you like/did not like about the idea of our water
bottle challenge project?
Amanda: Liked that our student group came from an outside source, not just a teacher
within the school with a project preaching onto the kids. Nothing that was not enjoyed from
the project.

Water Group: Would you run this 21 day challenge again?


Amanda: Yes.

Water Group: What was the biggest obstacle for the kids to bring their
refillable bottles?
Amanda: The biggest obstacle for the kids was the hygienic aspect, making sure the kids
were bringing home their bottles often and giving them a wash. Also losing or misplacing
water bottles.

Water Group: Do you think the kids took away anything from the project
such as changing their mindset?
Amanda: Yes, most of them are more aware! They did generally care about their plastic
water bottle waste, when certain kids did forget their refillable bottles and instead had a
plastic bottle a few felt embarrassed.

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Water Group: Did the project interfere with your class schedule?
Amanda: Not really, it was a fairly quick tally at the beginning of each day that one student
from the class was responsible for asking how many students brought their refillable water
bottles.

Water Group: Do you think this could be integrated into the school
curriculum? What subject/grades?
Amanda: Yes, probably a science class. Any grade starting with grade six and on.

Water Group: Did a week off from spring break interfere with the results?
Amanda: Yes, a large amount of kids did forget their refillable plastic water bottles more so
after having a week off of school.

Results, observation, student feedback


During our final presentation with the students on April 11th, we took some time to ask
the students a few questions about the project to see what they liked or did not like about
it. A request was made to have both classes present at our final presentation at the same
time in the same location. Students were asked several questions regarding; the water
bottles themselves, why or why not they brought their water bottles every day and if they
would participate in the challenge again.

Their responses were as follows:

1. Did you like your refillable water bottle? If no, why not?
A large majority said yes, they enjoyed their water bottles. A few students replied with no,
reasons were due to: spillage in their backpacks with the blue bottles and also a metal
taste coming from the green bottles.

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2. Did anyone find it difficult to fill up their bottles?
A large majority said no it was not difficult to fill up their bottles, although a few students
did say, yes, it was difficult. The majority of students filled their water bottles at home due
to the fountain options in the school not having a great taste to them. The students only
favored one fountain at the school.

3. Did anyone bring their refillable water bottle every single day during the
challenge?
A total of ten students, out of the fifty two, said they brought their bottles every single day
of the 21 day water bottle challenge.

4. Did anyone lose their refillable water bottle?


A total of five students lost their refillable bottles during the challenge.

5. Are you going to or planning to continue to use your new water bottle?
Overall, most students agreed they would continue using their refillable water bottles.
Over half the class assured us they would continue to use their water bottles even after
our project was complete.

6. Did you encourage your friends and/or family to use refillable water bottles
instead of single use plastic bottles?
Yes, the majority of the class told us that they were excited to receive their refillable
water bottles; they first broadcasted the challenge to other classes and students.
Throughout the challenge they passed on the information about water sustainability and
water pollution/issues to their family members and friends.

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2.4. Project specific challenges
Cleanliness
Cleanliness was a main concern for this water bottle challenge. This issue was initially
raised by Amanda Tetrault during one of the earlier meetings. The concern being over
whether or not the students would wash their water bottles properly before their first use
and if they would continue to (or remember to) wash them throughout the challenge.

Health benefits of water


Unfortunately not much time was spent promoting the health benefits related to drinking
water. We felt that it strayed away from our original idea of discussing the negative
environmental impacts plastic water bottle waste had on the environment. The fact that
water was a necessary for a healthy lifestyle was briefly conveyed to the students. We felt
that that aspect was not imperative to the overall goal of the project.

Interaction time with the students


Our group debated how much time we would need to spend in the classrooms for our
presentations. During our first presentation we spent roughly twenty minutes with each
class going over our presentation and the challenge. If we had stayed for a longer period
of time, we could have done more interactive activities with the students instead of
having given a quick presentation where all the information was given at once.

Compatibility and coordination with the school curriculum


The students were in the process of learning about the particle theory of matter in their
science classes. Due to the start and end dates of our project it did not coordinate well
with their curriculum so we were unable to tie in our information with their science class
directly.

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Conducting daily tally/bias in the results
Biweekly checks (every second week) to; record, observe and encourage the students,
could have been conducted during this blitz session however this action was decided
against because we did not want our presence to influence the students behaviors and
actions. For example; during our final visit, when asked, the students seemed eager to say
yes to the questions about the frequency they brought their water bottles to school, even
though the results showed otherwise.

Unfortunately the tally count for continued disposable water usage (during the 21 days)
was poorly recorded. This data would have provided a better understanding about
disposable water bottle usage, and whether or not having a refillable bottle influenced the
preference for bottled water.

After the 21 days, Amanda Tetrault raised a concern regarding the logistics of the daily
tally. For Class 16, the counts were usually taken as students walked into class and getting
ready for the lesson, the issue was that it was difficult to count who brought their bottles
during the commotion of student activities and movements.

Choices of refillable bottles and bottle materials


Due to time and funding constrains the choice of refillable bottles were very limited.
Ideally more research could have been done to explore the options of refillable bottles. An
ideal product would be eco-friendly, stainless steel, has a grip and does not spill.

Some concerns raised by the students included; the after-taste given off from the green
water bottles and the leakage/spillage from the blue plastic ones. After receiving the
bottles, students raised some notable observations. These included; confusion over the
type of material used to make the blue refillable water bottles and why was this kind of
plastic better than the plastic in the disposable water bottles.

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Plastic packaging
When the refillable water bottles were received by our sponsors they were all
individually wrapped in plastic for health and safety concerns. When distributing the
water bottles, the students raised concerns over why the refillable water bottles were
wrapped in a cellophane layer and whether or not it was recyclable or wasting plastic.
Unfortunately we had to inform them that in fact non-recyclable and thus wasting plastic.

Student interests
When we were giving our final presentation we had some difficulty holding the students
interest. This may have been due to a number of reasons including; the fact that the
classes were grouped together, it was a Friday afternoon, they were excited to know the
results of the challenge and to find out who had won.

Our group was fortunate to have been able to able to work with a teacher with a strong
environmental background. Some possible challenges could have been working with a
classroom that were not as environmentally conscious as River Heights was, or working
with a younger student group who had not touched on environment related subjects in
their classes.

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Part Three: Suggestions to improve water fountains in schools

To create a space that encourages refillable bottle usage, the students would need to be
able to refill their bottles.

3.1. Water fountains


Maintenance
The plumbing in school buildings, particularly older building, needs to be regularly
maintained, cleaned and operated at optimal standards. Since all water from drinking
fountains is just tap water, the condition of the pipes affects the quality, cleanliness,
clarity and health and safety of public drinking water.

Temperature
Based on the blind taste test the temperature of the water influenced the students
preference for tap water. The students favoured the water that was cooler and more
refreshing. Many water fountains, particularly in older buildings, are basic extensions of
the schools plumbing system and thus the temperature is consistent throughout the
building. Schools should look to find was to have the fountains kept at cooler
temperature, especially during the Summer season.

There are options to install cooling stations to water


fountains (figure 9). Benefits of installing these units
include; dispensing chilled water, they can be mounted
on walls or free standing, they are made of stainless steel
with push bars on either the front, left or right sides and
lastly they can be installed to specific height
requirements. Disadvantages of these stations are that
they require electricity and that on average these units are
Figure 9: Barrier Free relatively expensive to purchase, install and maintain.
Cooler Unit

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Modifying traditional fountains

Traditional spouts (figure 10 top Streeter, 2008) or bubbler


on water fountains are usually short, and the water
creates a shallow arc that makes it difficult to refill a
bottle.

A short term, cost effective alternative is known as the


gooseneck spout (figure 10 middle and bottom). This
adaptation has an extended spout, which would allow for
easy filling of water bottles. There is a lever at the base
that releases water. The long length of the neck enables
containers to be filled while being held upright (Polaris Institute
2010).

These low tech options are usually priced for hundreds of


dollars ($150 - $800), and can be fixed to existing water
fountains without the need for a complete reinstallation of
the fountain (Hassett, 2013, Pro, 2014).

Figure 10
(Top) Traditional water
fountain. (Middle) Retrofitted
water fountains with new
gooseneck spouts, McMaster
University.
(Bottom) Filling a water bottle
from a gooseneck fixture

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3.2. Refillable Water Stations
In recent years there has been a new approach to the old fashioned water fountain that is
pushing back against the water bottled companies. This new innovation (figure 11)
works off the regular design of a water fountain but also includes a secondary spout for
people to automatically fill up their refillable water bottles. These water filling stations
can be hooked up directly into a buildings plumbing and will deliver free chilled water to
its users.

There are many different designs to the water filling station but many of them include a
filter which provides cleaner water then regular tap water. Water from these stations can
be some of the cleanest and safest water available when compared to bottled water which
is not as stringently regulated and can sometimes contain chemicals such as fertilizers
and industrial solvents (Fried 2010). Another unique feature included in many of the water
filling stations is a digital counter which displays how many plastic water bottles have
been saved from being used. Every time the equivalent of 16 ounce (473ml) bottle of
water is consumed at the station the counter will go up. For example after three weeks of
operation water filling stations at Pen State University, the institution was able to prevent
the use of nearly 3200 disposable containers (University 2011).

One company that is a leader in manufacturing water


filling stations is an American company called Elkay
Pro. The company produces a wide variety of water
station designs which are ideal for education,
healthcare, fitness clubs and hospitality. For those in
Canada wishing to purchase a water filling station they
can either buy directly from the Elkay Pro or buy from
the Canadian company Novanni, which is the exclusive
distributor of Elkay products in Canada (Pro, 2014).
Figure 11 Elkay Pro model
LZS8WSLK, (2014)

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The price of the stations varies depending on the model purchased but overall the prices
of these units vary around one thousand dollars. At the University of Manitoba water
fountains across the campus have begun to be swapped with ElKay Pro LZS8WSLK model
water stations. The cost of this model is C$2133 but after installation and other fees the
average unit cost came to $4.000-$6,000. After installation, minimal maintenance is
needed.

Hopefully in the years to come more institution will see the benefit of these water stations
and start to install them into their own buildings. The more access people have to stations
like these, the less dependent they will be on disposable plastic bottles. If enough of these
water filling stations were used it could make a big impact for countries like Canada and
the United States of America, which produces over a hundred thousand tonnes of plastic
waste every year. In 2002 alone, it is estimated that 125,775 tonnes of plastic beverage
bottles were generated in Canada (Morawski, 2004). By providing people with clean-cheap
chilled water from a sleek looking dispenser, it is hoped that people will no longer buy
disposable plastic water bottles and rely more heavily on their refillable bottles.

29
Appendixes

A: Prezi presentation slides (screen shots)

30
B: Daily chart sheet

The original chart was scaled to 11 inches X 14 inches.

31
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