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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

The project

As a part of an overall vision to lead the community away from energy-intensive products, CEC launched its “Rethink the Drink” campaign in January 2011, aiming to reduce single use plastic bottles by 75% in two pilot schools. With funding from the Orfalea Foundations and other local partners, we have thus far installed nine refill stations in local schools.

The refill stations dispense cold, filtered water with both a regular water fountain spout and a quick-fill mechanism, and electronically display the number of times they’ve been used. Since the beginning of the program, students and staff have used the stations 164,387 times – dramatically reducing their use of disposable plastic water bottles.


Survey results

In a recent program survey, 95% of respondents knew there was a station at their school and 79% said they used it to refill their water bottles. We collected a total of 470 surveys (mix of staff, high school and 5th/6th grade elementary school students). Students and teachers alike expressed appreciation for the stations. As one student commented in the survey, “Rethink the Drink makes me not only feel better and think clearer because of my increased water intake but I also feel good about saving the environment and money.”

CEC’s vision

CEC’s vision is of a fossil free future where we choose energy-smart products that reduce our carbon footprint. The production and transportation of bottled water is one of the more energy intensive disposable products that most of us can do something about. More than 17 million barrels of oil each year are used to bring bottled water to our stores — enough to fuel one million vehicles for a year! Despite being recyclable, fewer than 30% of the bottles make it to a recycling bin.

Rethink the Drink’s funding partners are the Orfalea Foundations, the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, MedBridge Development, the William E. Weiss Foundation, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and the Montecito Union School Green Team.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. This is such a great idea! Good work CEC! I hope the idea spreads to schools everywhere. I posted it on my Facebook page.

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