Free tap water via Refill Birmingham

So, I was sat listening to the council’s Sustainability and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee – stay with me.  They were talking about plastic-free solutions and one thing mentioned was Refill Birmingham. I’ve been meaning to mention for a while, because I enjoy sustainability, not having to empty my bin/recycling, and saving money. So here I am, finally getting round to it.

Refill Birmingham is part of the overall Refill initiative, a grassroots movement to reduce plastic waste by telling you where you can refill your water bottle, free of charge.  They pretty much want you to stop buying bottled – and I want you to stop buying bottled water because its stupidly expensive and tap water is FINE.

Currently, less than 30% of people drink tap water from a reusable water bottle.  I’d like to believe that’s because Brummies are sensible and just grab a glass and down a pint of water, but that might just be wishful thinking.  Apparently, the average person uses 150 plastic bottles a year, which is nuts because I’d be surprised if I use more than 3; I will literally try and buy anything other than bottled water because what is the bloody point?!  Refill estimate that if just one in ten of us in this country refilled a reusable bottle once a week, we’d have 340 million less plastic water bottles in circulation. Oh and it’s supported by local water companies (Severn Trent in these parts, if you were wondering).

To aid in this there’s an app that tells you which venues have signed up to be a refill station – or ‘hydration station’ that the announcement at New St Station liked to call them.  For example, I’m currently loitering in Stirchley, and the app tells me that should I need to refill my water bottle I can go to CanEat, Loaf and Stirchley Library.  Should I be somewhere that chains have discovered, most Wetherspoons, Starbucks, John Lewis, Morrisons and Costa Coffee are also signed up.  The app tells me there are about 73 places in Birmingham city centre, and plenty more places dotted around the suburbs. Most of the places have a sticker in the window somewhere and there will either be a tap you can use, or the nice staff will fill up your bottle for you.

BUT there should be more in Birmingham (and Solihull and anywhere else with a B post code).  There’s going to be a Refill Birmingham Action Day on Tuesday 19 March to encourage venues to sign up.  But if you want to get ahead of the curve, and you work for a business that has easy access to a tap and deals with the public, badger your boss to sign up to the Refill campaign – tell them I sent you.  No seriously, if you let me know I’ll do a shoutout on twitter, come visit or something.

Unfortunately schools, nightclubs and places of residence can’t be included, put pubs seem to be fine.  It is also super simple to add venues to the app; decide you’re going to do it and add your venue via the website or app – just make sure you get permission from the owner.  Don’t forget to put one of the stickers in the window so people know you’re happy to refill bottles, particularly helpful for slightly nervous people.  Then bask in the knowledge that you’re helping the planet and probably encouraging some new customers finding out about you. Win, win.

In short; remember your water bottle when you’re out, download the Refill app, sign up if you’re a venue and generally feel smug about your planet saving ways.

Follow the local goings on at the Refill Birmingham twitter, which is part of an ecobirmingham initiative.

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