It’s amazing how a little thing can sometimes make a big difference.
What started as a way to spend some award money three years ago through the Think Green Challenge turned into a daily project where students help save the environment and their health each time they take part.
“We received some prize money the first year,” said Castle Heights Elementary School secretary Janet Romano. “We wanted to make the school a little greener. We came across the drinking fountain that saves water bottles and improves the environment. It was installed about a year and a half ago, and the kids are surprised at how many bottles they are saving.”
The water dispenser at Castle Heights works much like a soda fountain machine. A student puts his or her bottle in place and a sensor starts filling it with water. Once the bottle is filled, the student removes the bottle, and the water shuts off.
“You put your bottle under it, and the sensor turns the water on,” Romano said. “When you move the bottle away, it stops, so there is no water wasted.”
And the effort appears to be paying off for both the students and the environment. Romano said a counter on the system has recorded more than 10,000 bottles saved in its year and a half of use.
“The purpose of this, more than anything else, was to give the kids the sense that they were doing something to be a little greener,” said Romano, who helped spearhead the project.
According to green team leader and kindergartener teacher Laurel Key, in addition to Castle Heights, Walter J. Baird Middle School has gotten into the green effort by since installing its own water dispenser. She said it’s just one of several ways the school is working to help the environment.
“We recycle paper at the school all the time,” Key said. “We encourage parents, students and teachers to put newspapers, household paper and old bills and things in a Dumpster out back. We have a company who weighs it and gives us money back.
“It’s one way parents can help the school without dipping into their own pockets.”
A lighting system is also installed at Castle Heights, along with several other schools, that includes sensors to turn the lights on and off, depending on whether someone is in the room.
Key said Think Green events are planned at Lebanon city schools Saturday, where the schools team with the Lebanon Beautification Commission to keep the grounds clean. She said the public is invited in the morning to pick up trash, and the event will culminate Saturday afternoon at the Wilson County Fairgrounds for a recycling rodeo roundup.
“The school that collects the most trash wins a prize,” Key said.
As for all the efforts Castle Heights is doing in support of the environment, Key said she likes the water dispenser.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids come by and refill their bottles there,” she said. “A lot of the teachers use it, too. I know I do. It’s filtered water, so it tastes the same as regular bottled water.”