Introduction: How to Boycott the Bottle
Have you ever wanted to start something GREEN in your community but just didn't know where to start? This instructable will guide you through organizing a successful water bottle boycott in your school or workplace. I have even included my order form template, and you can even see my logo and source for aluminum water bottles. Just please contact me first if you want to use my logo - I drew it myself!
Step 1: Get Your Ideas in Order
You really probably can't do this alone. You will need to recruit the help of some students, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. But you need to do some planning and brainstorming to get your ideas together so you have a good pitch to make. You want them to get as excited as you are. You need to figure out exactly what you want to do, and exactly why you want to do it. The good news is you are already doing that right now!
What I did was used the information I found on awebsite to prepare a pitch to deliver to the kids in my Leadership Club. This website has a lot of ideas and materials too, which you can use, but I decided to make our own campaign instead of going with one of the big ones, because I wanted it to have a local flair. I also wanted to make a profit from our bottles, so we could pay for tap water filters. So I found our own source of bottles and designed a unique logo for them.
When you are recruiting people for your cause, you will overwhelm them with too much information. They will not want to memorize two dozen talking points. I figured we could handle 4. They are:
1. Water should be free and safe. At our school, we want tap water filters so students can have access to free and safe tap water to drink while at school. Proceeds from our water bottle sales will provide tap water filters for all students to fill their water bottles from, free of charge.
2. Water bottling companies are fooling people into thinking tap water isn't safe. Big name beverage companies undermine our faith in the safety of public water by leading us to believe that bottled water is safer, purer, or more healthy than tap. However, more than 40% of commercial bottled water comes straight from the tap.
3. Purchased bottled water is a waste of our earth's limited natural resources. Most single-use water bottles end up in landfills and are never recycled. Last year, 17 million barrels of oil were consumed to meet American demand for bottled water. This contributes to our dependence on foreign oil, as well as air pollution.
4. Aluminum water bottles are safer than plastic. Reusable plastic water bottles encourage the growth of bacteria. Also, plastic water bottles degrade over time, releasing chemicals which some say are harmful to your health. Heat from washing, microwaving, and storing your bottles in hot cars can accelerate this process. Our bottles are made of recyclable aluminum, epoxy-coated inside and out, and will never need to be replaced.
Step 2: Gather Your Troops!
Now that you have a plan, gather some people to help you do the legwork. My favorite source of enthusiastic helpers is my school. I always try my ideas out on the leadership club kids first. We then ended up making a separate subcommittee and called it Earth Day Committee. We plan on getting our bottles delivered in late April, so it works well to work this around Earth Day, but you can do it any time of year you want.
You will want to meet no more than one day a week, and then try to keep the project down to 6 to 8 weeks. People usually don't mind helping out on a project, as long as they don't have to do much work, and it doesn't take too much out of their calendars. I have found that 30 minute meetings are long enough.
Step 3: Choose a Logo and Other Promotional Verbage
Many of your committee members will enjoy these tasks, so be sure not to wear yourself out doing them yourself:
1. Design a logo or come up with a theme or something catchy people will remember and recognize. We started with lots of these license plates with slogans written in "texting language" or whatever you call that when you type on your cell phone. (-; We had a vote on which one represented our goals. Another popular one was "H82WASTE" but we finally chose "BACK2TAP" because we really felt the filters on the sinks was an important part of our campaign.
Step 4: Choose Your Bottles
2. Find a cheap source for the water bottles. I ordered ours from here They even put our logo on the water bottles. Don't forget, you will want to secure funding before you make the actual purchase! Also figure out how much you can sell the water bottles for, and how many you will need to sell to sustain the water filters.
Here's a little aside - we are a very small school, so we bought 150 bottles initially, and have three sinks to keep filters on. If we make a $2 profit on each bottle, this will be enough to pay for water filter replacement at the rate needed for our small student body. We chose the sinks in the science classrooms because every kid takes science and those sinks are monitored all day. The science teachers all agreed to having the filters mounted on their taps, by the way!
Step 5: Get Some Dough
3. Secure funding for your initial purchase of water bottles. If you actually have a budget with money in it, this is no problem. We made a pitch to our principal and she let us borrow the money from our Leadership fund, and we were able to convince her that we would sell plenty of water bottles to repay that account. Before you even attempt to make this kind of pitch though, you should have EVERY single one of your ducks in a row. You need to know how much money you need, how quickly it will be recovered, who will run it, whether you have consent from the people in charge to mount water taps, etc... If you have students making the pitch, make sure you role play and practice first.
Step 6: Publicize
4. Make posters to hang where people will see them. Add an addition to the weekly memo or whatever gets sent out in your organization. Call the newspapers to let them know what you are doing. You would be surprised at how many people will just give you free stuff or money to your cause just because you told them about it. Try the PTA, stores that sell water filters, local government, local businesses, etc.
Step 7: Collect Orders
Make an order form for your committee members to use for collecting orders. You can wait for your bottles to arrive to start selling them, or you can do what we did and do advance sales. Each student gets:
1. A form with a summary of the talking points.
2. An envelope for collecting money.
3. The promise of a free water bottle if they sell a minimum number of bottles.
Step 8: Wrap It Up
When the bottles come in, make sure they get delivered to the right people. Hopefully, there will be some left over. We plan on having a big display and event in the cafeteria on Earth Day. We will conduct a blind taste-test of bottled and tap water and give away prizes to students who are using their Back2Tap water bottles that day. We will also sell the rest of our bottles, and maybe take a few more advance orders for the next batch.