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LPGE students look to eliminate disposable plastic water bottles

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Secondary School students are encouraged to use filling stations, the results of last year’s Area Studies Green Initiative. Submitted photo1 / 2
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Secondary School students wait to receive their personalized water bottle and bracelet as part of “Ban the Bottle,” a student-driven initiative to eliminate bottled water at the school and its associated waste. Submitted photo2 / 2

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Secondary School students have committed to eliminating disposable water bottles through a "Ban the Bottle" initiative.

With the help of National Joint Powers Alliance and funding from different donors, the student-driven program is committed to helping the school become more environmentally friendly.

Social studies teacher Pete Phillips​ leads a class called area studies. Phillips said last year's area studies students launched a green Initiative with a commitment to do something environmentally friendly for the school, its students, and the community on an annual basis. For its inaugural green Initiative, Phillips' class set, and reached, a goal to have water bottle filling stations installed in the school. This year's class wanted to take it one step further.

The area studies class spent time studying global water resources, plastics, the economics of bottled water, and pollution. With guidance from Phillips, area studies students conducted their own research on water bottles, gathering samples and conducting surveys. After determining the need and price points, students created a plan to solicit and secure funds in order to provide all students in seventh through 12th grades a non-toxic and personalized reusable water bottle. The class also worked into its budget extra money to fund a campaign to raise awareness not only in their school, but throughout the community.

On March 31, all students and staff at LPGE Secondary School attended a symposium led by those involved in the Area Studies Green Initiative. The students' presentation emphasized the importance of drinking water and the environmental impact and health risks associated with plastic bottled water. Following the presentation, the class handed out over 400 water bottles.

Each grade level received a different colored bottle, adorned with the LPGE mascot and respective sponsoring organization logos. Students were also given a "Ban the Bottle" bracelet to remind them to use their water bottles wherever they go in lieu of the disposable plastic counterpart.

Students in the Area Studies Green Initiative applied for funding through NJPA's Small Project Partnership. Small Project Partnership is a new funding opportunity that aims to support projects smaller in scope than the traditional Innovation funding projects. The NJPA funds a maximum of $2,500 per entity per fiscal year, and requires the school district or entity to include a 50/50 financial match.

"Every dollar raised was from the community, including from NJPA, who is a partner with our school," Phillips said. "The Small Project Partnership from NJPA really made this happen, because we were finding out it was going to be too much money per sponsor, and they matched everything we did."

Additional sponsors of the "Ban the Bottle" initiative include the Long Prairie Packing Company, Breitenfeldt Group Health Insurance Brokerage, CentraCare Health-Long Prairie, Central Minnesota Credit Union, and Thunder Lodge Sports Bar.