Recently, the Coastal Zone Management Division distributed more than 1,000 reusable water bottles to students and is in the process of installing five bottle fill stations at Eulalie Rivera Elementary on St. Croix, and Lockhart Elementary and Ivana Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas.
Since February 2020, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ CZM Division has delivered more than 1,500 reusable water bottles to students in the territory in an effort to spread the message to Refuse, Reduce and Reuse. This program also facilitates the purchase and installation of Elkay Bottle Fill Stations, according to a news release issued Sunday by DPNR.
These fill stations are compliant with COVID-19 safety protocols and boast a touchless operation that will provide chilled and filtered water.
DPNR has collaborated with the V.I. Department of Education in identifying more schools to implement this program.
“Our goal is to complete three more schools throughout the territory this school year,” Kristina Edwards, CZM Education and Outreach coordinator, said in the news release.
DPNR’s “Refill Bottles, Not Dumpsters” program was started as part of the V.I. Clean Coasts eco-certification program run by CZM. This program helps V.I. businesses make more environmentally friendly choices, such as eliminating the use of expanded polystyrene and reducing the amount of waste created by single-use plastics.
“The department expanded the program into our schools for a couple of reasons: to help families save money from purchasing multiple bottles of water a day for their children; to help schools to reduce the amount of waste created by those bottles; and to alert children of the negative effects of drinking out of plastic bottles,” said Jean-Pierre Oriol, DPNR commissioner.
Participating schools receive reusable water bottles designed and provided by My Brother’s Workshop, a partner in the program. Students in participating grades receive their bottle and learn about waste reduction, the issues of marine debris in the territory and are invited to decorate their bottle to instill ownership and pride.
The schools also receive bottle fill stations that have chillers and easy to replace filtration systems.
“Each unit has a counter display so they can see how many single-use water bottles have stayed out of the landfill, and possibly our beaches,” Edwards said.