Hydration stations a step towards a greener school
October 18, 2011 • Kaitlyn Etienne, Viewpoint Editor
Filed under Viewpoint
The new hydration stations in the cafeteria are an important step towards making the high school environmentally friendly, and although students may be disappointed about not being able to buy disposable water bottles anymore, they should take advantage of the hydration stations.
The stations were created to reduce plastic bottle trash and will replace plastic water bottles in all District 95 schools, Corey Wilsey, director of regional operations for the high school’s food service provider, Southwest Foodservice Excellence, said. Before the hydration stations, LZHS sold over 2,000 bottles a week with its school lunches. Many of these bottles could be seen around the school filling up recycling bins and trash cans around the school. Other schools in the district sold recyclable bottles but did not even have recycling systems in place, Wilsey said.
Plastic bottle trash is not just the district’s problem. In 2009, only 28 percent of bottles made of the recyclable plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) were recycled, according to the recycling website http://earth911.com. If nearly 75 percent of the recyclable bottles aren’t being recycled, the best way to keep these bottles out of landfills is not to use them in the first place. Other high schools and even people at home would be wise to follow LZHS’s example and start using refillable bottles in order to reduce plastic bottle trash. Wilsey hopes this will be the case.
“In addition to an immediate impact, [the hydration station program] also creates awareness that maybe people can take it home and say, ‘Mom, Dad, there’s a better way we can do things. Can we get a filtered water system at home? Do we need to buy all these water bottles?’” Wilsey said.
Some students may be hesitant to use the school’s hydration stations, which use Lake Zurich tap water, but Lake Zurich’s water is actually safer than bottled water, Wilsey said. While Lake Zurich used to have an unacceptable amount of radium in its water, in 2010, the town installed a reverse osmosis water system, which completely eliminated the radium. Bottled water, on the other hand, contains radium, just at a legally permissible level, Wilsey said.
The stations are a step in the right direction for the high school, and if students and other schools are inspired to make their own refillable water stations at home, they will make an even larger impact on landfills and the environment.