BURIN, NL — Donald C. Jamieson Academy, an elementary school in Burin, has begun a program to reduce the number of plastic water bottles that wind up in landfills.
The Council of Canadians estimates in Toronto, where about half of bottles are recycled, 65 million end up in landfills every year. In many other Canadian municipalities fewer than 20 per cent of the containers are being recycled, but growing awareness of the problem is driving a shift to reusable containers, including in Newfoundland and Labrador.
To encourage students to use refillable bottles, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) has installed computerized water fountains at Donald C. Jamieson and all of its schools, according to Cheryl Gullage, NLESD communications director.
“Bottle-filling stations serve multiple purposes in our schools, including easy access to clean, filtered water for students, a reduction in the amount of single-use plastic bottles, and part of the continued instruction on healthy living," said Gullage.
The refill units, which she said were purchased with financial assistance from the province, have digital readouts that tell students how many bottles have been saved in total by their use of the stations.
Leo Hynes, Donald C. Jamieson's principal, is happy his school is on board to teach sustainable practices.
“It’s a great initiative," he remarked. "The combination of kids drinking more water and making better choices is beneficial both to their academics and results in less bottles in landfills. As a kindergarten to Grade 7 school, we have a lot of young kids, so they are forming good habits earlier.”
Hynes said the kids are embracing the new technology and the mind-set of staying more hydrated.
“A lot of kids are going around with refillable bottles. It’s becoming more of a natural thing for students and it’s more natural for the kids to have water in class. It’s good for their brain and health to drink lots of water so there’s no reason not to allow them to have it in class. The media and government are doing a better job at promoting environmentalism too, making it a thing that is worthwhile.”