Plastic pollution is a huge problem, with water bottles that are tossed away after a single use contributing heavily to this. Free water refill points are now being introduced around the country to combat this waste – what does this entail, and how can we cut down even more on waste?
When we’re thirsty, we need to rehydrate; it’s that simple. Of course, the fastest and easiest way of doing this is to grab a bottle of cool and refreshing water from your closest newsagent and enjoy the immediate benefits of a drink.
It would be easier to carry a bottle with you, but quite understandably many people will be reluctant to rely on the taps found in a public bathroom. You may not be aware, but we all have a legal right to free drinking water from any licensed premises such as a pub or bar. Be aware though, these establishments are entitled to charge for their labour in pouring the water, or a ‘hire fee’ for a glass if you drink it on-site. Strange but true.
This is why a new initiative of refillable water points has been launched by industry godheads Water UK. The idea is simple; by the year 2021, every town and city in the country will offer complimentary water refill points and public fountains at a variety of cafes, shops and large business buildings.
This is designed to encourage consumers to use a single, refillable and reusable plastic bottle that they carry with them at all times – and stop the waste of small plastic bottles being bought and thrown away. Whitbread, the owners of huge nationwide chains including Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, have leapt on the train first of all – each of these establishments will allow customers to top up a refillable water bottle free of charge from March of this year.
Bristolians will already be aware of this movement, as the West Country city began trialling the service back in 2015. There are now over 200 free refill points all over Bristol, which must be having a positive impact. It has been estimated that every citizen refilling a vessel once per week will result in over 20 million fewer disposable bottles being thrown away. Now, just imagine those numbers being replicated all over the nation.
You may still need a little more gentle encouragement to get involved, though – after all, we’re all guilty of occasionally throwing caution to the wind and paying for carrier bags at the supermarket because we forgot to pack bags for life, or simply don’t have the time or energy to think about leaving them in the boot of the car. Costa may be omnipresent on the UK’s streets, but if the nearest branch is on the other side of town it may seem easier to just grab a new bottle from the closest corner shop. After all, we’re willing to wager that you’re environmentally conscious and will do your best to drop your vessel in the closest recycling bin when you’re done.
All the same, this still leads to a whole lot of waste. Roughly a million bottles of water are purchased every minute worldwide, and only half of those are recycled (according to The Guardian newspaper statistics). What’s worse, just 7% of those are turned into new plastic bottles. That means for every million bottles sold, only 70,000 of them are from recycled materials. We may not be mathematicians, but that doesn’t sound too environmentally friendly to us.
HydrateM8 are passionate about the planet, and we always focus our efforts on minimising any potential waste when we design our products. Prime examples of these include our tracker water bottles or insulated bottles, which are designed to be refilled at any point. This will save you money, as you won’t need to pick up a new bottle every time you’re on the move, and it will spare our seas and landfill sites the strain of a further avalanche of disposable plastic. Not only that, we provide accessories to keep our bottles in tip top condition and of course, healthy to drink from.
If you want to do your bit for the planet – and save yourself plenty of money in the process – pick up a bottle (remember, the insulated models are just as effective for coffee, tea or soup, as they are for water, so they’ll be particularly helpful when the ‘Latte Levy’ comes to pass) and carry it around with you.