Water fountains, other measures save plastic, costs

by Megan Provost, Staff Reporter

Within the past month, new environmentally-friendly water fountains have been installed around the school in the math wing, athletics hallway and commons area.
The fountains have a spout for drinking normally like any other fountain. The factor that makes these new fountains different and environmentally-friendly is the additional spout in the back that allows for easy filling/refilling of water bottles. This not only benefits the school budget, but the environment as well, as less plastic bottles will have to be purchased by the school and less will end up in landfills. According to Kate Kraft, associate principal, the fountain in the commons area reached 10,000 bottles saved over the 12/8-12/9 weekend.

The idea for the fountains began with suggestions from the staff after seeing them while working out in the YMCA. The product was then researched to ensure that they were compatible with the water systems at school. After receiving the okay, three fountains were ordered and installed.

The money that went into the fountains came from building funds, save for the fountain in the athletic hallway by the fieldhouse, which was split between building funds and athletic funds with Dr. Steven May, associate principal of student activities.

Building funds are spent according to needs. If a staff member or division head comes up with a need or request, it is up to Ms. Kraft to determine what to invest the money in.

“The water fountains were an easy decision because not only are they environmentally friendly, but they save so much money, they’ve already payed for themselves,” Kraft said. “Every time a student fills their water bottle, it takes away the need to buy one.”

According to Ms. Kraft, students and staff have responded positively to the new fountains.

“I think the students are more motivated to hang on to their water bottles throughout the day and drink more water in general,” Ms. Kraft said.

According to Lisa Del Muro, AP environmental science teacher and environmental club sponsor, the new fountains are not only environmentally friendly, but cost and health friendly as well.

“Students are carrying around these plastic water bottles when it’s actually cheaper, easier and safer to just get it out of the tap,” Del Muro said.

This is validated by the Safe Water Drinking Act, the organization that tests and regulates tap water. This water is tested monthly, as opposed to bottled water, which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is tested by one person for the entire country, which leads to contaminated water being distributed to consumers.

According to Ms. Kraft, environmental topics and concerns within the schools are discussed on the District 214 board Energy and Environment. This committee has resulted in the installation of these new water fountains at Rolling Meadows High School after seeing them at WHS in recent weeks.

WHS has also taken other measures to be more environmentally friendly. Previously, the staff has been instructed to keep only two lights on and one light off at a time, in order to conserve energy, which also helps to manage electricity costs. The lights have also been altered to use F-32 25-watt energy-efficient light bulbs, according to Doug Dietrech, building and grounds manager. Dietrech also mentions the recycling bins that were placed in the stadium as of last year.

“They’re full after every game,” said Dietrech, a recycling advocate.

In addition to the new fountains, starting this spring and continuing through July and August, WHS will be going green by using compost made at Field Elementary School in Wheeling for planting around the school.

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