Whitefish High campaign takes aim at plastic bottles

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Whitefish High School students Thea Vrentas and Anna Cook are leading an effort to collect reusable bottles used at Bulldog sports events to save on the number of plastic bottles being thrown away. They say that more than 700 bottles ended up in the trash during the 2017-18 winter sports season. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Whitefish High School has launched a new campaign to reduce the number of plastic bottles used at Bulldogs sporting events.

Will Roche, the school’s DECA adviser, along with students Anna Cook and Thea Vrentas, launched a reusable bottle campaign last month during the Bulldog basketball game. The idea is to get folks to purchase reusable bottles that can then be refilled instead of purchasing and throwing away plastic bottles.

The project is a collaboration between DECA and FREEFLOW.

DECA is a national career and technical student organization that provides opportunities for students to further develop their technical, academic and employability skills. FREEFLOW is a science club focused on water quality and natural resource conservation in Montana.

Cook and Vrentas, who both serve as officers in DECA club, have been leading the way on the project with what they say has been great assistance from teachers including Roche.

“We wanted to build a project that would give back to the community and help the environment,” Cook said.

They note that last year during the winter sports season more than 709 water bottles were purchased and thrown away. To demonstrate what that looks like, students in the clubs strung those bottles together and put them on display on ladders in the lobby during a basketball game at the school.

Though the project has just launched, Cook and Vrentas said they were already seeing support for the idea.

“This is close to the heart because this community places such a high importance on the environment,” Vrentas said.

Roche said the idea came from seeing just how many plastic water bottles were piling up in the trash cans during Bulldogs games.

“It’s such a shame that we were using so many plastic water bottles,” Roche said. “We knew we needed to do a high quality water bottle.”

The reusable bottles are made by RTIC and come in four different colors with a variety of decal options for customization.

Each water bottle costs $20, and down the road soda and coffee fills will likely be reduced by half for bottle owners purchasing from Bulldogs concession stands.

Prior to the bottle sales launch, Roche said 96 bottles were purchased to launch the program, and he’s hoping to sell out of those soon.

“If we have to reorder, then it was a success,” he said.

By that definition, it’s a success. Roche said 50 of the original 96 sold during the launch night and restocking is underway.

Roche said the goal is to drop the season’s water bottle usage below 500.

“I don’t think that’s too lofty of a goal, but we’ll see.”

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