Water connects every aspect of life. Access to safe water and sanitation can quickly turn problems into potential – unlocking education, work opportunities, and improved health for women, children and families across the world.
And yet, in the developed world we seem to take it for granted.
We're also hooked on a dangerous reliance on throwaway plastic bottles of the stuff: an average of 35.8M plastic bottles are used in every day in the UK, contributing to the 8M tonnes of plastics that end up in the ocean every year - harming marine wildlife and spreading toxic chemicals.
It's amazing to think that in the UK alone about 15M bottles are discarded each day. That's a staggering 800 per minute! That's a habit we just have to address.
Which brings me to the amazing story of Refill, a UK-wide scheme introduced by Bristol-based community interest company, City to Sea. Refill is a national, practical tap water campaign that aims to make refilling your bottle as easy, convenient and cheap as possible, by introducing refill points on every street. Participating cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries, museums and other businesses simply put a sticker in their window – alerting passers-by to the fact they’re welcome to come on in and fill up their bottle – for free!
Using an app - which you can download for free - users can find their nearest Refill Station wherever they are in the country.
Earth Matters is proud to have been working with the Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) to launch Refill Peterborough, following in the footsteps of schemes in Hunstanton, Norwich, Brighton, Bristol, London, Bath, Cornwall, Dumfries and Galloway...the list goes on!
It's been a fantastic opportunity to talk to business about sustainability. We've been really encouraged by the enthusiasm to engage with the scheme, and feel part of a solution to a serious problem. We've come across business leaders prepared to embrace this, but also willing to innovate in other areas, too.
It's a great conversation starter, both about the pervasive nature of plastics in our lives, but also the simple steps we can all make together for a more sustainable future. The scheme itself is so simple and that's the attraction: fewer plastic bottles used once and thrown away; people switching to sustainable alternatives and carrying them at all times; consumers purchasing fewer sugary drinks and drinking more water instead; businesses seeing increased footfall as a result of people using the Refill app. Everyone wins.