Three Rossland Secondary School students embarked on a project five weeks ago to lower the prevalence of bottled water wherever they could.
The grade eight trio of Maggie Chan, Dakota Mular and Kaiga Lewis-Belle set out on an inquiry-based learning mission which had to relate back to water. The group decided that they wanted to find out the effects that water has on the environment and other areas and so began research on it.
That would eventually culminate in them doing a presentation for the superintendent of School District 20 and their own principal, with the results being no more water bottles at professional development days, instead they will be replaced by jugs of tap water.
Chan said the project would save a lot of water, as it takes much more water to create the plastic bottle than the amount of water it holds.
Lewis-Belle agreed, saying the need for people to use water bottles in areas like the Kootenays, where fresh clean water is abundant is “ a product of a consumer society.”
The project was a part of their science class, but seeing the potential that the girls were working with, teacher Vicki Trussler suggested that they present in front of the superintendent as a way to promote a change.
“That’s huge,” Trussler said. “They put this amazing project together and presented it. It was a slick presentation and they managed to convince them. And they’re going to move on and see if they can get bottled water banned from other public events.
“They’ve been working on this project for the past five weeks during class time. It’s an inquiry based project, so they’re allowed to really explore their interests. The only thing is it had to do with water issues. They presented it in front of our superintendent and director of instruction.”
The girls even put in a few calls to a major water bottling company to find out what chemicals go into the bottles, which could potentially leach out. In fact, they never could get a straight answer on the potential harms, though the company representatives did say that they recommend using the bottles only once.
The girls said that at the start of next school year, if they continue on with their project, they will make recommendations to get rid of water bottles in vending machines in the school.
They also have plans to petition Ferraro Foods and other local shops to discontinue selling water bottles in Rossland.
Mular said that it really doesn’t make sense for people to be drinking bottled water, as it contributes to a lot of waste and 88 per cent of the bottles aren’t recycled, ending up in the trash instead.
The other thing is that municipal water supplies are usually much better regulated, in their research they found that the quality of bottled water could dip below that of most city water, since cities have to have their water tested regularly, while bottling companies are only held to testing every three years.
They said that it takes five million barrels of oil each year to produce the worlds bottles that house the bottled water and most bottles are not reused in the recycling process, but down-cycled to be used in disposable plastics.