Introduction: How to Boycott the Bottle

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

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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

Picture of 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.


tribulus (author)2008-04-15

Just an idea, and I know the PETA people will hate this, but I am a hunter (also live in Colorado) and have used canteens for years, but, like many hunters I do not want to waste any of the animal if I can avoid it. What if we all started using canteens made from animal skins or bladders again? Like I said, just a thought, but there are so many animals hunted each year that we would all have a very eco-friendly water container in just a few years if people would buy them.

Gaark (author)tribulus2010-09-25

You know with the amount of beef that the world consumes, I'm left wondering why there isn't a whole lot more leather around. Where do all the hides go? Surely as you say there are good uses for them, even something small like thin sandals could benefit a homeless child somewhere.

LividMonkey (author)tribulus2008-10-07

I agree wholeheartedly. I believe that if an animal is hunted, then it should be used. Your idea is a much more natural solution to the problem.

randone (author)2008-10-07

this is a great fund raising idea. I use a cheapo Kroger 30 pack water bottle and I would be glad to use the aluminum. I am thinking of mentioning it to our school because our school is about 750 people in the 7-8 campus and I think these would sell. If not this year next year where the two middle schools will be combined.

technick29 (author)2008-06-26

Great job man. I think I'm going to try this out at my school come September. Thanks for opening my eyes. By the way, how did your Earth Day promotion go?

nerdnurture (author)technick292008-06-26

Thanks! It has been amazing! I have to order a whole bunch more for the start of the school year. We sold out FAST! Er. We didn't actually do the promotion - our bottles came in after Earth Day. But we did some other fun stuff too. We made wallets out of ironed shopping bags and journals made out of the paper in the junk trays in the computer labs and old photo calender pages. We'll do the taste test in the fall when we go back to school.

Full Frontal Graphic (author)2008-04-14

It's a good Idea, but you should know that aluminum comes from bauxite, which is mined by strip-mining, uses huge amounts of electricity to make aluminum from bauxite. Also exposure to aluminum may be a cause of several degenerative brain disorders. Then there's the epoxy... I don't want to rain on your parade, since I agree that privatisation of water, selling corporations a permit to 'harvest/ aquifers has depleted the supply of natural water throughout the world. etc. I absolutely agree with your intent, just that aluminum bottles don't seem to me to be the ideal solution. Personally I prefer ceramic or glass.

We considered that as well. The school won't allow students to carry bottles that can break. So between plastic and coated aluminum, I felt aluminum was the better choice. How would you rank the two if you had to choose one?

Well, anything can break. I won't quibble that there are engine blocks made of ceramic and I have seen borosilicate glass used as a hammer. I appreciate that the school can impose arbitrary restrictions. I'd have a hard time choosing either one: The epoxy on the inside of the aluminum likely outgasses in a very similar way to a plastic bottle, so I might say that I would just go with a used plastic bottle. Maybe stainless steel flasks would be suitable. This kinda highlights a 'problem' that shows up when one tries to do the Right Thing. Knowing that 'you can do anything you want' is a huge responsibility. Trying to behave responsibly in a modern world really requires a lot of research into a lot of things ... some of which are not as interesting or fun as making a steampunk-modded altoids tin, etc. Since you already have the topic open at your school, maybe you might want to brainstorm on what the ideal solution would be, and then see if you can implement that. If you can come up with something that would be undoubtedly superior to the other alternatives, I'd buy one maybe. Good luck, and thanks for sharing your work on this project. If we are going to save the world, we'll have to do it in a way that makes a profit, I think.

The epoxy on the inside of the aluminum likely outgasses in a very similar way to a plastic bottle

If that's true, then I'd still go for the aluminum because at least it's not adding to the landfills.

andrew101 (author)Browncoat2008-06-11

for all the things that can kill us by just existing on this planet im not to worried bout a bottle plastic or aluminum. u take in more chemicals by breathing regular air then u do by reusing a plastic or aluminum bottle a bunch. i would go with the aluminum just because alot of students would like aluminum over plastic

There is, as full frontal mentions below, a third option, Stainless Steel. I carry around a Klean Kanteen which is made from 18/10 stainless steel. They're extremely durable and safe to hold something that will be entering your body. Like already mentioned plastics gas and can leak BPA. Aluminum is a poor choice because of the epoxy but yes also the effect of mining has on the environment not only does it take large amounts of electricity but bauxite is commonly mined in tropical rainforest areas after the area has been clear cut. Klean kanteen is also great b/c they have sippy cups for kids to.

Meaghan10594 (author)2008-05-03

I love the idea mrs. norton ♥

nerdnurture (author)Meaghan105942008-05-06

Thanks! (-: They'll be here tomorrow, you know. Finally!

Meaghan10594 (author)nerdnurture2008-05-13

the bottles does look like a lisence (please ignore my spelling) plates look not like really the real thing 'cus the font style is a little weird but their helping the earth a little

membrane (author)2008-05-06

I do hate it when a school comes up with dumb rules but then the people who get in the position to make such rules more often then not don't have a clue ie they're idiots. But aluminum is a good choice though I'd prefer a teflon lining over epoxy I think it might out gas less. But on other beverages such juice or soda nothing seems to beat glass for not imparting any odd tastes.

nerdnurture (author)membrane2008-05-06

People with that attitude usually don't have a clue...

bobise (author)2008-04-12

I've been using a plastic bottle for weeks, I probably shouldn't but I couldn't afford to spend $2 every time I need more water. I may switch to glass next year as I don't think I could justify owning one of those aluminum bottles. They're so chic right now that my ghetto/hack style won't allow it. Although they do look very nice...

nerdnurture (author)bobise2008-04-12

LOL we are such a little backwoods school, the kids have never even heard of aluminum water bottles. They have no idea they are chic. They think I INVENTED them. (-:

Gjdj3 (author)nerdnurture2008-04-13

That is awesome. What other great things like that can you convince them that you invented?

nerdnurture (author)bobise2008-04-13

If you already have the bottles, that's a great way to reuse them. I had a ton of the small-serving sports drinks last summer when it was really hot. I would keep them in the deep freeze and grab a few on the way to soccer. When they were empty, I would refill them with water and put them back in the freezer. We had about a case worth of ice bottles. When we went camping, we filled the cooler with frozen water bottles. It kept our food cold, and when they melted, we then had good potable water. It didn't fill our ice chest with soggy food either!

jackfr0st (author)2008-04-12

colorado? im in colorado! what highschool is this? i want a waterbottle.

nerdnurture (author)jackfr0st2008-04-13

I sent you a pm. Maybe you could get it going in your school! (-;

incorrigible packrat (author)2008-04-13

Kudos! At first I thought this was going to be some new-fangled teetotalling scheme... Man, I loathe those plastic bottles. I work at a dump, and see thousands of the silly things. Even the ones that do get recycled are depressing, because each one is a burden on the municipality to recycle. Each one also represents a dollar or more, that someone spent for a measly drink of water. Most of those same people would probably be up in arms if their property tax went up a dollar a day, to improve the water treatment infrastructure of their municipality. As a side note, I find that most bottled water tastes nasty anyhow. Why would anyone want to drink it?

The Dark Ninja (author)2008-04-12

Great idea, except where I live the water is not controlled by US regulations to be as pure as possible. Therefore we are almost forced into drinking bottled water. I have a $600 filtration system and the water still tastes like I'm drinking runoff from a dumpster. So to in an effort to be green what should I do with the 20-30 bottles I go through every 2 weeks?

bobise (author)The Dark Ninja2008-04-12

Do you live in a place where you can get a water service? Where it comes in huge reusable jugs and you could fill a reusable bottle from it. And then you mount the jugs on a little stand that makes it boiling hot in one tap and ice cold in the other. We don't even use our kettle any more, we just pour a single cup of hot water.

The Dark Ninja (author)bobise2008-04-13

I dont think thats available here (Sicily). I will look around for it as I'm sure somebody needs it. Good idea too.

killerjackalope (author)2008-04-11

Great idea, as a continuing business get a bunch of bar measures and empty bottles, fill them with diluting juice and charge 25c for a shot of flavour...

That is a good idea too. I forgot to add in the instructable that I have been working with the kitchen manager to sell those single-serving powder packages instead of the bottled beverages they now stock. We also talked about filling a big dispenser with water and lemon slices and charging 25c or so for a fill-up. As you can see, it's a work in progress!

Cool, I think this is a great idea, I like the idea of the little sachets, as another extra you could have extra sets of cups made for football team cups and all and charge a little more to cover the low unit advantages, it's all pretty flexible... I think the whole idea behind this is amazing though, congrats for getting this far already...

Thanks so much for your compliments. We have also discussed providing water at sporting events. We are lucky our school is so small - it might be really hard to provide enough to satisfy a larger crowd. But I think we can get by with two of those big orange beverage dispensing jugs. I also keep a stack of once-printed on paper near the sink for kids to make their own origami cups if they just want a quick drink from the sink. Any other ideas would be welcomed! (-:

The origami cups are a nice touch, sporting events might also be a good chance to sell more bottles and get people from outside the school like parents and family to get in on the act...

bartax (author)2008-04-12

"2. Water bottling companies are fooling people into thinking tap water isn't safe."

Do you not see the irony in that you are trying to make plastic reusable water bottles not seem safe?

nerdnurture (author)bartax2008-04-12

I'm not sure I see it as ironic... We chose to buy aluminum bottles instead of plastic because we have heard so much lately about the possible hazards of using plastic bottles. We realize it is a debatable subject, hence the careful language in that paragraph. We did, however, conduct our own experiment earlier in the year culturing bacteria, and found the growth on reusable plastic water bottles appalling.

caledonian (author)2008-04-12

If not already aware, you can vectorize graphics in a few minutes with Thought it used to be free, but looks like they now add a watermark and and using a token-based system. You'd have to look at the details.

nerdnurture (author)caledonian2008-04-12

Thanks for the info! The company who is making our water bottles cleaned up the logo for me as part of the set-up charge. But I'll look into it maybe next time.

Doctor What (author)2008-04-12

That's a really great idea! I might have to try this for school.

joejoerowley (author)2008-04-11

Cool! Great Instructable!

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More by nerdnurture:Teacher Appreciation Gift Sure to Please!How to Stop Using Paper Towels, Napkins, and Baby WipesHow to Boycott the Bottle
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