Coca-Cola Beverages Florida is helping local schools and community groups convert recycled syrup drums into fully functioning rain barrels in partnership with Barrels by the Bay.

For the second year in a row, the Tampa-based bottler and nonprofit teamed up with Walt Disney World and Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Green Works Initiative this month for the “Brighten a Barrel” initiative during the 25th Annual EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. Guests of all ages stopped by to add artistic touches to 40 rain barrels for the local community and learn more about their waterways and how rain barrels can reduce stormwater runoff. The barrels will be installed at community locations in the Orlando area.

Coke Florida provided the barrels and installation kits, and employee volunteers staffed the “Brighten a Barrel” activity station during the three-day festival. Rain barrels collect and store rainwater from a roof, preventing rainwater runoff pollution that can flow into streams, rivers and oceans.

“Water quality is a key issue here in Florida, so rain barrels help make a substantial impact in  preventing stormwater runoff and educating people, starting at an early age,” said Erin Black, vice president, risk management and sustainability, Coke Florida. “Barrels by the Bay has been a great partner, and we hope to expand the program in the years ahead.”

Barrels by the Way
An attendee at the Annual EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival displays her newly painted rain barrel. The 'Brighten a Barrel' activation was organized by Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, Barrels by the Bay, Walt Disney World and Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Green Works Initiative.

The two partners also have worked with Orange County (Orlando) and Hillsborough County (Tampa) to distribute barrels, kits and educational materials kits to elementary, junior high and high school teachers.

“We provide everything they need – from paintbrushes and stencils, to ocean conservation books written by leading naturalists,” said Black, who hopes to extend the program to schools in South Florida. “In some cases, art teachers have incorporated the rain barrel painting projects into their classes, and in other cases we’ve worked with school environmental clubs or summer camps.”

Barrels by the Bay was founded by 2013 Coca-Cola Scholar Megan Rosenberger on World Water Day 2015 when she was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. Since then, the organization has reached more than 10,000 participants in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C. Learn more at www.barrelsbythebay.org.

"Barrels by the Bay proudly aligns with Coke Florida's message of sustainability, and we are committed to igniting a passion for conservation amongst individuals and inspiring others to recognize the importance of protecting local watersheds," Rosenberger said.