Cardiff residents will likely agree that we’ve had finer summers than that of 2020. Not only were most plans we had outside of the city limits ruined, but the Cardiff we all know and identify with has also been demeaned. Its streets, usually full of people and life, are instead filled with heaps of litter, much of which includes water and soft drinks bottles made from single-use plastic. Yes, we know it’s bad, but what is a commendable, convenient alternative?
Refill is a nationwide scheme through which people can top up bottles at various stations throughout the UK, including over 280 refill stations in Cardiff. Download the Refill app on your phone, look up participating establishments in your immediate area, present them with a bottle and they’ll fill it with tap water for free.
Many different types of organisations are part of the Refill offer, including museums, bars, galleries, supermarkets and banks. Convenience really is key: it may be easier to go to the shop and buy a bottle of branded water, but the refill initiative is both cheaper for people and better for the city. There’s more than just water offered by the Refill scheme, too, including refillable flasks for coffee and the ability to fill up a Tupperware container with food from various places on the Refill map.
Donna Thomas is a resident of Canton who organises litter pickups around Victoria Park, and reckons that on these pickups, plastic bottles make up 70-80% of the total haul. “Every small change that you make to your everyday life can make a positive difference,” Thomas says. “Take a step in the right direction by carrying a reusable bottle and filling up on the go.”
A couple of objections to reusing schemes like this sometimes come up. One is the suggestion that reusing plastic to drink water could potentially be dangerous. In the UK, a chemical called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used to make water bottles; studies done on bottles containing PET have offered no evidence of chemicals leaching into the water, so long as the bottle isn’t damaged. So it’s safe to reuse plastic water bottles in the UK. More topically, how could coronavirus affect reusable water bottles? To date, over 125 health experts from 19 countries have affirmed the safety of reusable water bottles during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Using Refill on your outings is a small step towards less litter on our streets; the ability to rehydrate away from home for free; and the option of showing support to local business by using the hashtag #RefillRevolution on social media.
Refill is a free app available on the App Store and Google Play. Info: refill.org.uk
words THOMAS MADDOCKS