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Reduce Plastic Waste with Fill it Forward

by Meagan Kane

Montclair State University Facilities recently partnered with Fill it Forward to reduce plastic waste on campus.

Fill it Forward is both a website and app that allows users to track their environmental impact, donate to charitable projects and track how much water they drink. QR code signs are placed at water filler stations across campus, where users can scan the QR code and unlock all benefits.

Adeline Cochran, assistant director of sustainability, explained the benefits.

“There’s the altruistic benefit of knowing that you’re helping a charitable organization (at no cost to you) every time you refill your bottle and scan the code,” Cochran said. “The benefit of eliminating single-use waste (plastic water bottles). The ability to track your individual impact and the impact of the university’s group. The app also helps users track how much water they’re drinking.”

Cochran said that the QR code signs began being placed at filler stations in November.

“Signs started going up in early November,” Cochran said. “They’re available in most buildings at this point, but there are still a few missing. I hope to have them all up by the end of this month.”

One of the main goals of the program is to encourage students, faculty and staff to switch to reusable water bottles instead of using plastic.

“The partnership supports our goal to reduce waste generation on campus by encouraging students, faculty and staff to refill reusable water bottles rather than purchasing single-use plastic bottles of water,” Cochran said. “This goal is part of the Facilities Sustainability Plan.”

Shawn Connolly, vice president of University Facilities explained the Facilities Sustainability Plan in a plan update posted to the University Facilities page.

“The University Facilities Sustainability Plan represents our commitment to upgrade and exceed our past practices to ensure the viability of our environment and our institution for future generations,” Connolly said. “It allows the division to catalog our previous successes and establish a formal and transparent course toward a more sustainable future.”

If signed up with your Montclair State email address, users can become part of the Red Hawks Reuse group, which tracks the group’s environmental impact. Those who are part of the group are automatically entered into monthly prize raffles whenever they scan any of the QR codes.

“Additionally, by joining our Montclair State group in the app, users will be automatically entered into a monthly raffle every time they scan the QR code,” Cochran said. “For raffle prizes, we’ve been offering three options: a Rocky the Red Hawk mascot plushie, a University Facilities branded steel water bottle w/carabiner, or a University Facilities branded beverage koozie.”

Bryan Lizarazo, a junior computer science major, shared his feelings about the partnership.

Bryan Lizarazo, a junior computer science major. Allen Macaraeg | The Montclarion

Bryan Lizarazo, a junior computer science major. Allen Macaraeg | The Montclarion

“I think this partnership will benefit not only like the environment as we’ll be using less plastic, but it will also benefit students with the benefits that you get from using the QR code,” Lizarazo said. “So like you just have more of an incentive to use this because of the rewards and because of the environmental benefits. So I think it’s a great program.”

Armani Estrada, a freshman molecular biology major, likes the idea of the partnership due to the fact that water conservation is being practiced across campus.

Allen Macaraeg | The Montclarion

Armani Estrada, a freshman molecular biology major. Allen Macaraeg | The Montclarion

“The partnership seems really sweet in terms of doing water conservation,” Estrada said. “I also recently found out there’s a water science, I think, class in Montclair State, so to add on to that it really reinforces it’s credentials that like ‘Oh you know there’s a water science course and there’s people who you know care about water.’ This [partnership] seems like really trustworthy [and] reliable.”

Oluwaseyi Azeez, a freshman film and television major, expressed how the partnership will benefit the Montclair State community.

Allen Macaraeg | The Montclarion

Oluwaseyi Azeez, a freshman film and television major. Allen Macaraeg | The Montclarion

“I think it would benefit ’cause I’ve noticed like even here in 1908 how big like the garbage gets from like all of the bottles and all of the trash, so it would probably reduce the amount of stress like you know the people who we have like taking care of clean-up on campus have to deal with,” Azeez said. “It may even call out a situation where probably figuring out if our water system is even good so maybe we can let like the people who do run our water system to change it and just better our environment because you know we use water for a lot of things, not just to drink but we also use it on our skin so if there’s like something wrong with it then we can advocate for a better water system and make sure that we’re also taking care of our bodies on the inside and the outside.”

The partnership also works if users would like to utilize the Fill it Forward app and website off campus. This is through picking up a free QR code sticker at the Student Center Information Desk.

“Additionally, if folks want to participate in the program when they’re off campus, they can get a QR code sticker for their water bottle,” Cochran said. “That way you can scan it no matter where you’re refilling and it still contributes. Stickers are available (for free) at the Student Center Information Desk.”

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