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Muhlenberg College refills reusable water bottles with refilling stations

Published On: Apr 22 2013 07:12:30 AM CDT

Muhlenberg College provides refilling stations for reusable water bottles, eliminating need for plastic water bottles.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Co-eds at Muhlenberg College in Allentown drink a lot of water.

In fact, about 15,000 plastic water bottles were tossed in the trash every week on campus by the nearly 2,500 students and staff.

Three years ago a group of students aimed to change that.

"Initially there was some resistance; students wanted their bottled water," explained Muhlenberg student Cimarron Sharon.

She and the Environmental Action Team kicked off the "Just Tap It" project to get rid of disposable water bottles on the 82-acre campus.

In 2010 the first bottle filling water station was installed.

"There was an overwhelming positive response," shared Muhlenberg's Sustainability Coordinator Kalyna Procyk. "So we decided to expand the program."

Flash forward to now and there are nearly 50 stations across campus where folks can fill up their reusable bottles with free, filtered H2O.

"There's one in at least each academic building and in the dorms we have one on every floor," added Procyk.

The machines are activated by a sensor,. so topping off is easy and quick. Each of the filling stations features a counter with a running total of how many bottles have been refilled there.

Campus wide, the college has diverted the equivalent of 1.4-million plastic water bottles from landfills.

The once controversial change is now a part of campus life.

"You buy one water bottle one time and then you can just keep refilling it," described Sharon. "And you can save a lot of money because you don't even realize how expensive water is."

Plastic water bottles are still sold at some spots on campus, but the effort has reduced sales by 92%. And made students more aware of their impact on the environment.

"This is one way that as an individual and as a citizen you can make a difference, and it all starts with small steps," smiled Procyk.

Every student enrolled at Muhlenberg now has a reusable water bottle, and every incoming freshman is given one as an orientation gift.