"Waste to Water" is an program developed by high school children in Guilford, Connecticut, USA. This group of students is organized under the Interact program of Rotary International for the purpose of serving the local and world communities. They meet after school and organize fundraisers to support worthy causes that make a significant difference in the lives of the world's citizens. "Waste to Water" is a program that can be adopted by other schools to raise funds in a meaningful way to support causes they are passionate about.
Despite the $0.05 deposit attached to most bottles and cans in Connecticut, these items are often systematically disposed of in single stream recycling systems where their value is lost. The issue is particularly pronounced in schools, where water bottle consumption is high and bottle refunding is largely unfeasible. Not only this, but many bottles are simply tossed into the garbage, from which they will contribute to the growing issue of landfill expansion.
Arguably even more concerning than unnecessary contributions to a subsidiary cause of climate change is the disturbing inaccessibility of clean drinking water in certain places around the world. There are currently one billion people in the world who lack access to clean drinking water, and the consequences are lethal. Each week, approximately 30,000 people die due to contaminated drinking water.
Waste to Water has partnered with the South Asia Pure Water Initiative, Inc (SAPWII) to aid their pursuit of bringing clean drinking water to some of the most impoverished areas of the world. SAPWII, a 501(c)(3) organization with headquarters in Wallingford, Connecticut, disseminates BioSand filtration technology in India by facilitating workshops centered in the building and understanding these systems. Since its conception in 2004, the organization has brought clean drinking water to more than 200,000 individuals.
In its approach, Waste to Water provides a holistic method for addressing each of the above concerns. Per the Waste to Water model, student leaders work with their school administrations to establish recycling bins for the specific purpose of collecting refundable items. The bins are then maintained and the contents periodically deposited by a group of student volunteers. In addition to incentivizing diligent recycling practices, the system raises awareness and generates valuable funds for the issue of clean water. To date, the model has proven immensely successful in numerous high schools and continues to expand throughout the state.
1. Initial Contact : Email Sean Hackett and Gunnar Smith at WastetoWaterCT@gmail.com indicating your interest in chartering Waste to Water in your school or community. We will provide you with all relevant documents in a shared Google Drive folder and can answer any questions you may have.
2. Gaining Permission : Establish contact with your administration to discuss the potential implementation of Waste to Water at your school. In your Google Drive folder, you will find a sample email to the administration. We advise that you request to assume control over the existing recycling bins, assuming such are present, as this is the most cost effective and immediate option. If for some reason Waste to Water will not work at your school, you can still bring the initiative to your community! Try contacting a local gym, community center, or library.
3. Obtaining Bins (if necessary) : In some schools, using the existing bins is not an option due to issues regarding either logistics or school policy. If this is the case, you can contact your school’s waste management service provider, as they are generally eager to support such efforts. In your Google Drive folder, we will provide you with an additional sample email for this purpose. If you are unable to receive support from the waste management company, we will be able to help you to seek alternative arrangements.
4. Gaining support : Reach out to friends or clubs that would be willing to support you in this endeavor. The rate at which the bins will fill up is dependent upon a number of factors and is largely undeterminable prior to implementation. Thus, it is important to have support accessible to keep up with whatever the demand may be.
5. Gaining started : Now it’s time to set up the bins and start collecting! Set up the bins throughout your school, if necessary, and attach the signs provided in your Google Drive folder. Post the informational posters on the walls of your school and make frequent announcements educating students and staff of the initiative.
6. Operating : Periodically check your bins and empty them as necessary. We recommend that you empty all of the bins on the same day, and bring them to a redemption center with a decently sized group of volunteers. If you only have access to a grocery store with a deposit machine, you should either stagger your returns, or distribute bags of bottles and cans to volunteers to do at their leisure.
7. Bookkeeping : Fill out the spreadsheet included in your Google Drive folder with the appropriate data for each trip to the recycling center. Every few months you should send your funds to South Asia Pure Water Initiative, Inc (SAPWII) at 11 Wadsworth Lane, Wallingford, CT. You can mail a check made out to SAPWII with the memo “Waste to Water” and your town. Email WastetoWater@gmail.com with the date you sent the check and the amount it was for.