SBP students learn how Bergen County school discontinued use of the plastic bottles

January 2018

Plastic, single-use water bottles may have no future at St. Benedict’s if students at The Hive follow the lead of young women at the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest.

St. Benedict’s Green Bees, members of the student sustainability activity, were inspired by what they learned about the successful, “Kick the Water Bottle” campaign when visiting the Bergen County all-girls high school on Jan. 22.

“It showed us what we have to do to integrate such a program in our school,” said Green Bee Joshua Viveros ’19.

The Green Bees, Viveros, Princeton Addo ’20, Sergio Almeida ’19, Antony Le ’18, Matthew Meles ’21, and Sterling Stokes ’18, learned that the five Holy Angels students who launched the campaign faced significant skepticism from the student body when they suggested that the school no longer sell single-use water bottles. But they were undeterred and found sympathetic staff and administrators to support their efforts.

The Holy Angels students presented economic arguments to the other students, showing them how much money they would save by not buying plastic water bottles. They built plastic water bottle sculptures to show how many bottles were used during one week at the school. They sold reusable water bottles with the school’s logo on them.

School teachers and administrators helped the Holy Angels students deal with vendors and the Academy’s food service provider. Director of Mission and Ministry at Holy Angels, Joan Connelly, added that, although the effort was spearheaded by the students, administrative involvement was crucial, not only to getting the ban implemented, but also to the purchasing of the refilling stations at water fountains throughout the school.

The ban is comprehensive at Holy Angels: the sale of plastic water bottles, including the sale of bottled water in vending machines, and the purchase of individual plastic water bottles with school funds are prohibited at the school as a result of the students’ efforts.

The Green Bees and their moderators, calculus teacher Stephanie Kranz and garden project director Noreen Connolly, were inspired by the students’ commitment and the effectiveness of their effort. They were particularly impressed with the refilling stations.

“The refilling stations throughout the school are awesome,” Kranz said. “They are a necessary component in creating a school without disposable plastic a water bottles.”

But it was the Holy Angels students’ persistence and success that most impressed Sergio Almeida.

“It showed how a small group of students could make such a large impact,” he said.

--By Noreen Connolly