St. Philomena in Portsmouth gifted water bottle filling station

Greenlove project aims at replacing single-use plastic bottles


PORTSMOUTH — The campus of St. Philomena School just got a little greener. 

On Monday, the school celebrated the installation of a new water bottle filling station that was donated by the nonprofit Greenlove Foundation. The machine, located in a foyer near the school’s gym, allows students to fill up a reusable water bottle with fresh water, rather than using single-use plastic bottles.

The Greenlove Foundation was established in memory of Kendra L. Bowers, an environmental science student at the University of Vermont and an impassioned environmentalist, who tragically died in a skiing accident in February 2014 at Sugarbush in Warren, Vt. She was 19.

The Bowers family was determined to carry on Kendra’s legacy of environmental activism, but wasn’t sure how to go about it at first. They found their inspiration upon spotting a water bottle filling station in an airport in North Carolina.

“That’s what we’re going to do,” Katherine Bowers, Kendra’s mom, recalled for students gathered at the outdoor assembly. “Kendra was always worried about the use of natural resources, including water.”

The family founded the Greenlove Foundation and decided to donate similar filling stations to schools and outdoor recreational areas, starting locally on Aquidneck Island, in hopes of replacing single-use plastic water bottles.

St. Philomena’s new station was the 19th that the foundation has established in the past three years. So, the machines have replaced about 400,000 single-use plastic bottles, Ms. Bowers said.

That estimate is based on figures that are computed by the filling stations themselves. Each one automatically keeps track of how many bottles it saves with each refill, and also features an indicator to alert someone when the filter needs changing.

School’s second station

With the donation by the Greenlove Foundation, the school now has two water filling stations, according to Catherine Gurspan of the school’s Green Committee. The school has already seen a big decline in the number of single-use bottles, she said.

“We’ve saved over 8,000 single-use water bottles right here on campus,” said Ms. Gurspan.

She reminded students that potable water is a precious resource. “Ninety-seven percent of the earth’s water is not drinkable,” she said, noting that figure represents ocean water. Another 2 percent is frozen, leaving only 1 percent available for human consumption, she said.

“Thanks for helping us remember the importance and privilege we have on our campus,” she said to members of the Greenlove Foundation.

To learn more about the Greenlove Foundation, visit

St. Philomena School, Greenlove Foundation

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.