One water bottle at a time: Fleming Island Environmental Club working to save the planet

By Bruce Hope bruce@opcfla.com
Posted 2/24/21

FLEMING ISLAND – Students who are members of the Fleming Island High Environmental Science club are working to help their classmates and faculty become more environmentally friendly.The club is …

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One water bottle at a time: Fleming Island Environmental Club working to save the planet

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Students who are members of the Fleming Island High Environmental Science club are working to help their classmates and faculty become more environmentally friendly.

The club is raising funds to have a water fountain at the school replaced with one that has a bottle filling station.

“The President, Pricila Villalta was a founding member of the group,” said club faculty advisor and Advanced Placement Environmental Science teacher Brenda Morris. “She is a senior and took my AP Environmental course last year. She is extremely passionate about the environment and doing whatever we can to improve it. The idea of raising money to replace the existing water fountains with bottle-filling stations began last spring, but then COVID happened.”

“I had been to other schools; I’m also a member of the marching band,” said Villalta. “And just going places in public generally, I started to notice fountains that had a little bottle filler, and it shows you on them how many plastic bottles have been saved by using this bottle filler. I thought it was really neat to see that and to see how much plastic it saved from going into landfills.”

Villalta brought the idea back and pitched it to Morris. Once she was on board, and the club put together a presentation for school principal Thomas Pittman. The presentation included make and models, cost, pros and cons and ease of replacement.

“They also conducted a study by swabbing various fountains to see if they were unsanitary; several grew various bacteria,” Morris said. “After the presentation, Mr. Pittman was quite enthused and gave us his blessing.”

With the cost of about $2,000 to replace one fountain, the next hurdle was coming up with the money. The club tried the old-fashioned way at first, by collecting donations from fellow students in the cafeteria. They posted flyers in the school and advertised on the school’s Facebook page.

“The administration offered us a MySchoolBucks page, which is typically where parents go to pay fees for sports, band, art, lockers and stuff, so we have a page for that,” said Villalta. “So since then, we’ve collected just under $1,000.”

Villalta believes the club should be able to meet its goal by the time she graduates. With the school population being around 2,000 students, the funds could be raised if students or parents donated a single dollar.

The most significant donations come from the community, however.

Island Dentistry stepped up as a Silver level sponsor, providing a $500 donation for the project.

“Most people are really excited, and they think this is a needed upgrade,” said Villalta.

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