Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Middle School for Girls Eco Club has received a grant of $500 from GRINCH (Green in Chestnut Hill) to fund a water bottle refilling station in the Cherokee Campus cafeteria.
The club, with the help of science teacher Sarah Ferrell and parent advisor Anne Sudduth, submitted a grant to GRINCH in September 2014 after much research and planning. Club leaders involved in submitting the grant were Lenny Lorenz, Tiara Jenkins and Ainsley Rexford.
“The work of the Eco Club enhances the knowledge of the students at SCH on how important it is to reduce the use of one-use plastic water bottles,” Jenkins said. “We’re currently working on a plan to motivate the school to bring in reusable bottles at snack and lunch.”
The goal of their project was to reduce reliance on single-use water bottles and cups in the cafeteria, raise awareness of the environmental impact of disposable containers (such as cups and single-use water bottles), and encourage the use of reusable water bottles by making refilling stations accessible to SCH students.
The girls conducted a student survey to determine the number of students who were using disposable water bottles and cups, and audited a water fountain on the Cherokee Campus to identify existing water fountains that were not compatible with water bottle filling. The girls found that they needed to better educate their classmates on the issue and reminded them of the importance of using reusable water bottles.
“This initiative is important because we need to reduce the amount of water bottles that end up in landfills,” Lorenz said. “They will not decompose for 450 years, which is long after we’re gone. Think about it – your trash lasts longer than you do.”
After gathering the survey results, the girls used creative strategies to draw attention and engagement from the student body. They are currently working on a bulletin board outside of the cafeteria with facts about their “Rethink the Drink” campaign, where they will display 365 water bottles during earth week to show how much waste a person produces by drinking one bottle a day for 365 days.
They also have spoken at multiple school assemblies and are writing an article for the Middle School newspaper focused on ways to help the earth.
“It has been a joy to facilitate the middle school girls’ Eco Club this year,” said Eco Club advisor Sarah Ferrell. “I am impressed with how the girls have taken ownership over encouraging faculty and students to create less waste by bringing in reusable water bottles. They are a dedicated group of students who continue to take the initiative and volunteer their time to make their school a better place.”