A large crowd of students and faculty gathered in the Reed High halls Friday morning as the EcoWarriors, a club dedicated to improving the school and community through ‘green’ initiatives, unveiled the new touchless water bottle refill station. The club began passing out free reusable water bottles to students and teachers who were eager to try the new Hydration Station, and even after the halls had emptied each bypassing student or teacher would keep a strong gaze on the machine uniquely mounted on the wall.
“I was really excited and happy that people are so involved and they want to help out,” Alicia Wong, president of the EcoWarriors club, said. “It feels pretty good because it is something we can do to help out. I want to help out as much as I can, but the fact that people are into it and want to help even more is really great.”
While the Reed High community will reap the benefits of a water refill station for years to come, few realize the work done behind the scenes by the EcoWarriors who pursued the Brita system for more than two years to get it purchased and installed. The buzz was initially created when the club presented a proposal for grant funding to buy the refill station.
“Before they did the proposal the EcoWarriors actually did a bunch of surveys of the student population to find out how often they drink out of water fountains and water bottles and if they liked the taste,” Morehouse, a co-advisor of the club, said. “They were really trying to find out why they were using throw away plastic bottles and not reusable ones.”
The group tried to get enough money for four stations throughout the school, but was only funded for one and the money would not cover the cost of installation. Reed teacher and co-advisor Leigh Metcalfe said a new group of students came into the club and inherited the task of raising enough money for installation.
“These students really worked hard for that last chunk of money,” Metcalfe said Friday. “They partnered with the Leadership class and held bake sales, penny wars and a few other fundraising events.”
Metcalfe said the fundraising helped spread the word and market the efforts of the EcoWarriors while creating an anticipation that culminated with Friday's unveiling.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to get that word out and sometimes things happen and go unnoticed,” Metcalfe said. “We have learned in the past that we really do need to make sure there is a whole education that goes along with unveiling something new at the school.
“Then, once you see the gigantic crowd of students, it is really exciting for a teacher to see that students really do care and they are excited about something they can do to be more green.”
Reed junior and EcoWarrior Omar Kamal said he was surprised to see such a big crowd of students lining up to use the new Hydration Station, and he added that the new appliance was a symbol for the Reed community.
“I think getting the information out there not only about what we are doing, but ways (other students) can help is really important,” Kamal said.
Reed freshman Issac Echegoyen is new to the EcoWarriors, but after hearing how the group had pioneered a couple environmentally conscious bathrooms he was ready to help.
“It feels really nice to be able to make a difference and changing our school and hopefully, eventually, the entire community,” he said. “We are trying to spread the message that you can make a difference and you can make the world a better place by doing simple things like the water refill station. That is the first big step in making a greener and better school.”
The Brita Hydration Station costs nearly $2,000 without installation. According to Brita’s website, the annual savings of a Hydration Station for more than 500 people who drink one bottle of water per day is about $30,000 and 125,000 plastic bottles.
Wong said teachers on campus have vowed to stop selling plastic water bottles and opt for reusable bottles instead to help contribute to the EcoWarriors’ cause. She said now that the club has the ‘green’ bathroom and water refill station in the rear view, the group’s next big project will be an “idle free” campaign encouraging Reed drivers to turn their vehicles off.