Berkshire. Bottled. Better
Berkshire School is a co-ed boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and post-graduates. The 400-acre campus is located at the base of Mount Everett (2,624 ft.) in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Rooted in an inspiring natural setting, Berkshire School instills the highest standards of character and citizenship and a commitment to academic, artistic, and athletic excellence. Our community fosters diversity, a dedication to environmental stewardship, and an enduring love for learning.
For one week every winter, Berkshire students participate in two unique, intensive courses of their choosing, taught by faculty, staff, parents, alumni, friends, and other students. The Pro Vita Winter Session is focused on the "Make. Perform. Do. Solve. Serve." model, in which students explore courses within the areas of art and design, sustainability, philanthropy, diversity, and sense of place.
The goal of this program is for students to have the opportunity to explore the larger world around them and to embrace the School motto: Pro Vita Non Pro Schola Discimus, "Learning—not just for school but for life.”
The mission of Green Apple Day of Service directly fits into the goal of this program. Alumni Kris Govertsen led 10 students through the opportunity to complete a Green Apple Week of Service service project of their choice on Berkshire's campus.
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On the first day of Pro Vita, the students identified that many of their peers exclusively drink bottled water. As a group, they discussed the potential negative impacts of bottled water in the community at Berkshire and in the communities where the water is bottled. They discussed the implications of the single-use plastic bottled water industry has on their health and their planet. Lastly, they identified the reasons why students were so drawn to bottled water over the campus water. The students then came up with an action plan for the rest of the week to encourage students to switch from plastic water bottles to reusable water bottles with campus' water.
The steps identified were to:
1. Locate all water bottles refill stations on campus, create a Google Maps (http://bit.ly/berkshirewater) and identify areas where water bottle refill stations are needed.
2. Outline the health risks associated with bottled water.
3. De-stigmatize Berkshire's tap water.
At the end of their research, the students created an Instagram (@berkshirebottledbetter) and initiated a #bringyourownbottle social media campaign. They made flyers and posted them all over campus. They organized and held a water taste test in the dining hall during lunch which featured 3 samples of tap water from various points on campus and 1 sample of bottled water. Over 80 community members participated. 95% of the community indicated they preferred the tap water over bottled water. They even created a pledge for students to sign indicating they would stop using single-use plastic water bottles. 40 community members signed the pledge.
Lastly, the students created a commercial highlighting their efforts and further promoting their #bringyourownbottle campaign at Berkshire!