The Refill Revolution: Helping Our Environment One Water Refill Station At A Time

by | Nov 11, 2019 | Blogs | 7 comments

After Blue Planet II aired in 2017, the way we thought about our plastic consumption was changed forever. Prior to that, however, non-profit organisation City to Sea had been hard at work pushing us to change our habits, and give up single-use plastic bottles in favour of reusable ones. Now with over 20,000 refill stations nationwide, it is becoming easier and easier to top up on water, without paying the price environmentally and financially.

It’s a hot summer’s day and you’re gasping for a drink while you’re out and about. The familiar sight of a Tesco’s Express comes into view, and you dive inside to revel in the air con and treat yourself to some refreshing H2O. A bottle of spring water later and you’re back on your way, dropping off what would be the first of three bottles you buy on average each week, in the closest bin without a care in the world. It’s a familiar scenario for many of us, with the average person in the UK using 150 plastic water bottles every year. So it is perhaps unsurprising then that, since 1964, the production of plastics in general has risen twentyfold. And this is due to quadruple by 2050.

But there’s a problem…

Unfortunately, what happens to those bottles after we bin them is causing severe damage to the environment, as up to a third of plastics end up in our oceans. And one-third of that is made up entirely of plastic bottles. To put it into perspective, Dame Ellen MacArthur’s Foundation reported in 2016 that there would be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050. The results so far have been deadly, as 100,000 sea animals are killed by plastic each year. But it isn’t just wildlife we need to be concerned about, either, as between 400,000 and 1,000,000 people in developing countries die each year from diseases related to plastic pollution.

Boy in pile of plastic waste

But what can we do about it?

Although it’s easy to simply say “stop drinking plastic bottled water”, we know that this is completely unreasonable. Although the UK sports some of the safest tap water in the world due to our strict regulations, not having access to it on-tap at all times has, for the longest time, been a major obstacle for those trying to top up their bottles. This may be for the sake of the environment, or simply not wanting to be stung for a couple of £’s for something we already pay for at home. However, thanks to an initiative started just down the road from us in Bristol, the tides are starting to turn…

“What we’re going to do about 1.5 degrees rise in the temperature of the ocean over the next 10 years, I don’t know, but we could actually do something about plastic right now.”

Sir David Attenborough, 2017

Vive la (Refill) Révolution!

Although this revolution won’t end Les Mis style with Russel Crowe jumping to his untimely demise, what it will (hopefully) achieve is an increase in the number of spots around the country where we can fill up our bottles. Reducing the amount we collectively spend on pre-bottled water, which sits at a staggering £2.4 billion per year, and getting that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with ‘doing our bit’ to secure our children’s future? Seems like a win-win to us.

So what is Refill?

Refill Movement Logo

  • Originally launched in Bude in 2014 by Deb Rosser, in conjunction with Keep Britain Tidy and South West Water.
  • Further developed by environmental campaign organisation City to Sea, before being launched in Bristol in October 2015.
  • There are currently nearly 200 schemes in place across the country, with over 20,000 refill points installed.
  • The campaign has been picked up by popular food & drink providers Costa, Pret a Manger, and Wetherspoons.
  • It has also been featured on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Rani’s BBC documentary series, War on Plastic, amongst lots of of other media coverage.
  • The campaign took home the gold for Best Environmental Behaviour Change at the Global Good Awards 2018.

How do I find my local refill point?

As the fantastic folks at Cornwall Wildlife Trust (including Deb herself) state in the video above, you can find your local refill point through the Refill mobile app (iOS / Android), or keep a look out for the window stickers as you go about your day.

Here at ADS, we are passionate about the water you drink, and ensuring both its quality and sustainability. This is why, as we look to push the limits of what we can do with our brand new showroom here in Westbury, Wiltshire, we too are joining the campaign, and will be installing a free refill point in our shop. With this, we are looking forward to ‘doing our bit’ for this planet we inhabit, whilst also saving you a few £s here and there!

Can I use any old bottle?

Absolutely! However, if you’re looking for a solid, long-lasting plastic-free bottle that won’t break the bank, we recommend one made from food-grade stainless steel. There are many shapes, sizes and colours (unsurprisingly, we’re fans of blue) to choose from. The best part? Thanks to their double-walled, insulated design, hot drinks stay hot, and cold drinks stay cold! And to give you some ideas, let us link you to a few:


Have you made the switch from plastic? If so, let us know in the comments below!

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