Cheltenham Girls High School Fighting Plastic Waste

Creating Green Initiatives and New Long Term Traditions

Case Study

February 13, 2015

Challenge: to reduce the amount of disposable plastic 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 an aquafil™ Fresh Water Refill Station and Drinking Fountain that has 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 emphasises 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 500ml compared to a few cents per litre 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 aquafil™  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 aquafil Fresh unit best suited the schools requirements offering chilled water, hands free automatic bottle refilling with a 20 second shut off timer, soft mouthguard drinking fountain, anti-bacterial protection and a green ticker that records how many bottles have been saved from landfill.

The installation of the aquafil Fresh unit 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 have 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.

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Refill Revolution

Encouraging the water refill

Linda Mathieson

February 5, 2015

We live in a disposable world due to convenience. It is easier to buy, consume and dispose of rather than reuse, refill and recycle even though the later can save us money in the long run and importantly help save our planet which is slowly drowning in plastic waste.

The common thought process seems to be, “What difference can I make, so why bother.”  Well, what a load of rubbish, literally!

If everyone bought one plastic bottle of water daily for a year, that would equate to 365 plastic bottles used and around $730* spent per person annually. Imagine the cost saving and plastic waste reduction if only 100 people changed their habits and chose to reuse, refill and recycle. The result would be $73,000 saved and 36,500 bottles saved from landfill, oceans and waterways.

So the message is simple, everyone can make a difference, you just have to make the right choice and change the plastic convenience mindset.

In America the Refill Revolution has a mission to encourage individuals, civic leaders, event organisers, industry and corporate to Rethink and Reject the disposable mindset by encouraging the use of reusable bags, bottles, cups and food containers at all times.

Their message is simply “Your simple actions will inspire others and help spread this positive movement at work, school, play, and gatherings large and small.”

I think it is time we all made an effort to change bad habits and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refresh!

Find out more about America’s Refill Revolution

* Based on a 375ml bottle costing $2

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