Clean Memphis Awarded $500K EPA Grant to Reduce Plastic in Waterways

Water refill stations to be installed in local parks and schools

Clean Memphis has been awarded a $500K grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce plastic in waterways by installing new water refill stations in schools and parks. Partners receiving new water refill stations include Compass Community Schools, Memphis River Parks, Overton Park Shell, Overton Park Conservancy and City of Memphis Parks.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, plastic makes up about 80 percent of all marine debris and studies estimate that 75 to 100 million tons of single-use plastic currently pollute the oceans, and nearly 14 million tons of plastic enter the gulfs, bays and oceans each year. Reducing this number is possible with access to water refill stations.

By working with cities along the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA continues to invest in education, outreach programs and infrastructure to protect the world’s waters. This makes Clean Memphis the perfect local partner as it is a local environmental sustainability organization working to make Memphis cleaner and greener.

“We are excited to be able to provide this important infrastructure for our parks and school partners while encouraging reuse over single-use across the city,” said Clean Memphis Executive Director Janet Boscarino.

During the summer, Clean Memphis worked with local contractors and plumbers to replace 35 outdated water fountains at all six Compass Community Schools campuses with brand new and eye-catching water refill stations. Each campus estimates they will save $10,000 per year by curbing their single-use plastic water bottle purchases.

“Our entire Compass Community is thrilled to be a primary benefactor of the recent EPA grant that Clean Memphis received,” said Executive Director of Compass Community Schools Kristi Baird. “As we continue our efforts to become a more sustainable organization, we are excited to be able to track the number of water bottles we are saving from landfills by using our new water bottle refill stations.”

Before this upgrade and due to lack of functioning fountains, students at Compass Community were consuming more than 500 single-use water bottles daily. Clean Memphis will also distribute reusable water bottles to Compass students this fall through a series of activation events.

Compass students will have a choice of four colors for their water bottles, and Clean Memphis will provide stickers for them to decorate and customize. Additionally, banners with original student artwork, plastic pollution and consumption statistics, and information about the Memphis Sands Aquifer will enrich each new fountain.

Clean Memphis also worked with area parks including Memphis River Parks, Overton Park, Overton Park Shell, Marquette Park, Whitehaven Park, Glenview Park, Weaver Park, Raines-Finley Park, Fletcher Creek Park, Flowering Peach Park and Germanshire Park. Providing refill stations is a proven strategy to reduce single use plastic water bottle litter by promoting reuse over single use.

“Through our partnership with Clean Memphis and EPA, the Overton Park Shell is able to improve its visitor experience and focus on environmental sustainability through the installation of our water bottle refill station,” said Overton Park Shell Executive Director Natalie Wilson. “Thanks to Clean Memphis for choosing to partner with The Shell, we can showcase our pledge of reduction of waste to the landfill and empowering our Shell fans to live a more sustainable lifestyle.”

About Clean Memphis

Clean Memphis is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage every citizen in making Memphis and Shelby County clean, green, and environmentally sustainable. Founded in 2008 by a group of concerned citizens, Clean Memphis works with local government, neighborhood organizations, churches, schools, and corporate teams to achieve this mission. Clean Memphis programming includes Project Green Fork, K-12 environmental science education, and community engagement.

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