Western Kentucky University introduces Fill it Forward to cut down on disposable plastic

BOWLING GREEN Ky.- We can’t live without water, and we also can’t live without our Earth. The over abundance of disposable plastic bottles and other plastics wreak havoc on the environment. That’s where Fill It Forward comes in. It’s an initiative to get Western Kentucky University students to refill re-usable Cupanion bottles rather than getting water from disposable bottles.

It’s something the WKU Department of Facilities Management has been looking forward to.

“When they came out with this new design, we loved it, and we knew students would too. We were confident in investing in the program,” said coordinator of resource conservation Elizabeth Gafford.

Any student can come to the Department of Facilities Management to pick up their own Cupanion bottle at no cost to them. From there, they can download the Fill It Forward app, which tracks how often they’ve refilled that bottle. This puts the students in drawings for prizes like free coffee, and merchandise from the WKU store. Even the Department of Facilities Management can’t help but jump in.

“We’ve seen a lot of excitement specifically among our staff where they’ve implemented a personal refill challenge among our three student workers,” said assistant coordinator of resource conservation Courtney Martin.

By week two of the fall semester, over 2,400 bottles have been refilled. Students have been praising the initiative for its positive impact.

“I think it’s going to be an easy way to encourage students to act. I feel like a lot of students feel like they can’t do stuff or they don’t have the time. Apps like that make it easy to do something quick that’s going to make a difference,” WKU senior Sarah Auvil said.

“It’s been very, very helpful because I live in the Kentucky Street Apartments and I drink a lot of water.  The issues of society with the overpopulating of the plastic bottles, I find it efficient to fill it up at night and put it in my freezer,” WKU junior Brandon Johnson said.

In the end, students and staff alike are ready to turn the big red campus, into a big green campus.

“I do believe that we only have one world, and we need to keep it clean,” Johnson said.

As of now, Fill it Forward is a yearlong project. Depending on how much it’s used, it will become a full-time initiative.