Case Study: How to Ban Single-use Plastic Bottled Water on School Campuses
PATHWATER supports PUC Charter Schools Plastic Ban
Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC Schools) is a non-profit charter school organization consisting of 14 schools total, all of which have completely eliminated single-use plastic bottled water sales. The switch was made easy with PATHWATER’s school bundle that includes free refill stations per every 2,000 students and reusable PATHWATER bottles for students to keep all year long and refill.
PUC’s Mission to Ban Plastic Bottled Water
On Earth Day of 2019, the first PUC School school in Sylmar, CA committed to sustainability by banning all single-use plastic bottled water sales on campus as featured on ABC7 News. Shortly after, all 14 schools within the PUC School organization joined the revolution to end single-use plastic water bottle sales on campus. Thanks to the positive attitudes, dedicated students, staff, and an excellent partnership with PATHWATER, PUC Schools have succeeded in removing all plastic bottled water sales, making sustainability a community-wide priority.
The PUC plastic ban carries the weight of 4,900 students who no longer purchase single-use plastic bottled water at school. However, this shift also influences the behavior of students, teachers, and faculty after they leave campus. Reusability as a lifestyle is often adopted once someone learns about the importance of water bottle reuse.
Consider this, the average person in the U.S. uses about 156 single-use water bottles every year, according to the Earth Day Network. Counting students alone who have made the switch, if adopting a reusable water bottle is mimicked across every PUC student’s lifestyle for one entire year, they will collectively prevent 764,400 single-use plastic water bottles from entering our waste stream, meaning landfills and oceans.
PATHWATER helped PUC schools tackle our plastic crisis by providing students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to reduce, reuse, and recycle with a sleek, affordable bottle. It’s easy to do this when you’re working with a hybrid of purified water in a 100% reusable and recyclable aluminum bottle. PATHWATER is on a dedicated mission to provide solutions to the plastic crisis and change the beverage industry as a whole, and one of the many ways this is done is by educating and partnering with youth across the country to ignite them on the same mission - to clean up our plastic crisis.
How a school-wide plastic bottled water ban was accomplished
There are three crucial aspects to the success of banning single-use plastic bottled water at schools. After deciding to ban the sale of disposable plastic water bottles on all campuses, the school needs to implement:
- Affordable reusable, 100% recyclable aluminum bottles
- New water refill stations
- Environmental education to encourage reuse and recycling
#1 Affordable Reusable PATHWATER Bottles
PUC now provides students an affordable alternative to what was once sold: plastic bottled water. When a student purchases a PATHWATER, they can expect to pay the same amount as they did for wasteful plastic and are not subjected to buying a $30 canteen-style bottle just to practice sustainability. All 14 schools are now providing reusable water bottles for those who have forgotten to bring their own, at a price that all students can afford. Some of the main benefits of the transition from plastic to PATHWATER include:
- Affordability for students
- Increased hydration rates
- Having a reusable bottle for one year can eliminate 156 plastic water bottles per year
- Aluminum is 100% recyclable
- 75% of all aluminum that was ever put into production is still in use today
- Plastic PET bottles are barely recycled at a rate of less than 10%
- PET plastic water bottles are downcycled into inferior products
- Other single-use bottled water marketed as “sustainable” contributes to the waste stream
#2 New water refill stations installed by PATHWATER, PUC, and Partners
PUC and PATHWATER worked with partners to set up 9 water refilling stations across all campuses. Now, students and every person who visits any of the 14 campuses have a chance to purchase a PATHWATER bottle at the same price as a plastic bottled water. They can then refill it as many times as they’d like for free while on campus. Not only do the refill stations offer students a way to reduce plastic waste, but it also allowed students to affordably and conveniently remain hydrated at school. Adequate hydration is a big problem on many campuses that lack accessible refill bottles and stations. The increase in hydration rates is also likely to drive up test scores, making PUC students smarter, as explained in this Psychology Today article, Can Sipping Water Make You Smarter?
#3 Environmental education to encourage reuse and recycling
In order for all students, staff, and faculty members to understand the ban and make the transition away from plastic bottles, PATHWATER conducts pop-up education events at school campuses throughout the school year.
The pop-up education events on campus bring environmental and health topics to students in fun and exciting ways. Pop-ups are a way to also introduce PATHWATER to students as a solution to the issues that plastic bottles are creating for our planet. Students will learn how to effectively make a positive impact and improve the future as well as get to know some important facts and statistics about the plastic crisis.
Students are also invited to join the PATHWATER Student Ambassador (PSA) Program. The PSA was created to give students a platform and voice to ban plastic at their schools. The program is aimed to support students with their on-campus initiatives to get rid of single-use plastic, starting with bottled water. For students in the PSA program whose schools are still selling plastic bottled water, they are invited to sign a petition and initiate a move to ban plastic on their campus. PUC students are excited about their ability to ban single-use plastic bottled water and carry this enthusiasm to the PSA program to help students from other schools.
The results and how the plastic bottled water ban was received by students and staff
In one fell school-year swoop, PUC schools went from plastic pollution to eco hero! All it took was a transition from selling disposable plastic bottled water to offering students affordable, 100% reusable, 100% recyclable, PATHWATER bottles, and refill stations. And the transition is going great! Students love not having to purchase water every time they are thirsty. PUC schools have reported that everyone is drinking more water, and as one staff member noted, “The students are adjusting well. Students, as well as teachers, have been drinking more water. Since the ban and the addition of PATHWATER and the refill stations, teachers, staff, and students bring in their own flasks/bottles from home to refill their bottles throughout the day.”
“Our founder and CEO supports all efforts that have a great impact on our communities. Her leadership and the leadership of our environmental clubs increase more awareness, and eventually, we were able to get folks excited about becoming a more sustainable campus,” said a PUC representative.
For schools looking to make the transition from plastic bottled water, it has never been easier. PATHWATER is giving away free water refill stations for schools that commit to a ban on plastic bottles.
A message from PATHWATER Co-Founder, Ali Orabi:
“It is my soul and sole mission to get every school in the U.S. and eventually the world to ban single-use plastic bottled water and install free water refill stations for students. Water is a human right and access to free; safe drinking water should be a top priority for the entire world, every country, and every school. Any school that has the desire to make this shift for students, I am here to help. Any student that wants to change their school for the better and make this shift, I am here to make that happen with you. You can connect with me, anytime day or night, and I will be there to make this shift a reality for your school.”
Join the #RefillNotLandfill Revolution!
Ready to see if your school qualifies for a free water refill station? Contact Ali directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below and a member from our PATHWATER School Team will contact you shortly.
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