Reusable Water Bottles Support Local Students

As local school districts planned for a very different school year, they faced some unexpected and unprecedented challenges. Columbia Borough School District started its Back-to-School Supply Drive asking for things they never needed before including reusable water bottles. Columbia Borough School District had retrofitted all the water fountains to be water filling stations. Removing the fountains would reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 and the new fillers can also instill a healthy habit in Columbia’s youth.

As a member of the Superintendent Advisory Group, Hope Byers heard the school district’s call for reusable water bottles and knew Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA) could fulfill the need. As part of managing Columbia Crossing, Hope works with the local community to engage youth in the river’s important cultural and natural assets and encourage good stewardship. COVID-19 had upended the opportunity for spring field trips and fall canoeing excursions.

“We have had to shift so much of our programs and activities to digital, self-guided initiatives that reusable water bottles sounded like a great opportunity to do that again. We couldn’t bring students to the river to engage, explore, and experience its wonders but we can remind them of its importance every day” says Hope Byers.

Hope Byers immediately reached out to SNHA’s long-time partner Lancaster County Solid Waste Authority (LCSWMA) about the project – knowing they would find this unique challenge intriguing. LCSWMA has committed to enhancing the recreational opportunities and quality of life in areas where its facilities are located.  They have two such facilities along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County: the Lancaster Waste-to-Energy Facility in Bainbridge that combusts waste to make electricity for our community and the Frey Farm Landfill in Manor Township. LCSWMA has made a proactive commitment to the river and its assets for over a decade.

“LCSWMA believes in the importance of being a community partner—both in protecting the environment and public health, but also investing back into the places we serve” says Bob Zorbaugh, LCSWMA’s CEO. “This is needed now, more than ever.”

Providing reusable bottles to the student at Columbia Borough School District fulfilled many goals for SNHA and LCSWMA. First, to encourage reuse and recycling. They chose a 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bottle, which helps support the entire recycling lifecycle. The chosen bottles were also made in the United States and come with a sip n’ pour lid with an easy carry handle.

Second, the partners desired the messaging to reflect how the Susquehanna River brings a wonderful synergy to our community. The bottle design uses a word-cluster of blue words flowing by green shoreline. All the blue words highlight the river’s assets and opportunities including trail, bridge, paddle, preserve, overlook, history, and explore. The green shoreline are ways in which LCSWMA (and all of us) can protect and care for the Susquehanna and its surrounding landscapes, including recycling, conservation, stewardship, reuse, sustainability, and collaboration.

Superintendent Tom Strickler said “Columbia Borough School District is very appreciative of SNHA/LCSWMA donation of water bottles for our students.  Demonstrating to students the reuse of plastic in a positive manner is an example to students to recycle.  Also, because of the COVID pandemic, students need bottles these bottles to access water fountains in each school building.  Another very positive example of the positive collaboration between business organizations and Columbia School District.”

Five-hundred bottles were provided to the Columbia Borough School District and distributed to students. Additional bottles are available for purchase from Susquehanna NHA at Columbia Crossing River Trails Center. Pick up a bottle for yourself or to give as a gift. It’s a great way to show your love for the river and your commitment to care for it. All proceeds from reusable water bottles support Columbia Crossing’s educational initiatives. Visit the Center at 41 Walnut Street, Columbia, PA on Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm or Sundays 12 pm to 4 pm.