Water School

The reduction of plastic bottle waste and the reduction of sugar consumption were the main reasons for the secondary school Kauergasse to become a "waterschool". The school took part in the Viennese initiative and inspired students to drink the free offered tap water instead of drinking sweetened beverages. Water drinking is allowed during lessons and teachers remind the children to drink tap water. Water is always visible and to hand during lessons.Vending machines were also completely removed. 


Vienna Schools




Photographs by MS Kauergasse

Useful links:

waterschools.eu is an EU-wide project to support WaterSchools

The Eco-Schools programme in the UK provides supporting resources to learn and save water!


Study the impact of plastic bottles on the environment. Start providing students with recyclable bottles.

How is the project linked to climate change and sustainability?

Bottled waste is becoming a global problem. Young people are used to consuming drinks from plastic bottles and after only a few minutes these bottles become problematic waste. Worldwide, one billion of these plastic bottles are sold every second. When this waste isn't binned properly, many bottles end up in the sea. Even though Austria is very good at recycling and at collecting waste materials, only about twenty percent of the bottles are recycled. The rest is stored or sometimes ends up as litter and it can take about four hundred and fifty years for a bottle to decompose in nature. To address this problem,  students and teachers in Vienna have decided to become a Waterschool. Vending machines are completely removed and only tap water is drunk. Mittelschule Kauergasse decided to reduce their bottle waste and 80,000 plastic bottles per year are saved in this school alone.

Who is involved?

Students and teachers are supported by Gutessen Consulting to get the project going in their school. The project has the support of the School Board of Vienna and Wiener Wasser. The water supplier in Vienna supports schools by supplying them with refillable water bottles. The project is funded by Wiener Gesundheitsförderung and Fonds Gesundes Österreich.

How are the participants involved?

Teachers, head teachers and students decide to become a Waterschool. Once enrolled in the project,  students only drink tap water during the school day and  no other drinks are served or sold. Teachers are trained to understand the value of drinking tap water and how to organise the Waterschool. Previously, most schools were primary schools but, Mittelschule Kauergasse was a pioneer school in implementing water drinking in secondary schools. 

Key steps

  • School decide to become a Waterschool
  • Training session with teachers to plan the implementation of Waterschool
  • Waste collection campaign in school to collect plastic bottles demonstrating how much waste is generated from soft drinks. 
  • Sessions with students on how to reduce plastic bottle waste
  • Joint decision with the parents' association to remove any vending machines
  • Organise refillable drinking bottles for the students.

"The project 'Drinking Water in Vienna's Schools' is a further essential step towards sustainability and health promotion in Vienna's compulsory schools." Claudia Canaris, School Board Vienna 

"If all Austrian schools would yield up with plastic bottles, the garbage mountain would be reduced by 6 million bottles per year!" Students of BG Dornbirn