Put a stop to unsightly and polluting plastic bottle throwaways by joining or supporting RefillMyBottle. The story, objectives and operations of this ingenious scheme is narrated by Lauren Groves.
BALI, 23 January 2018. RefillMyBottle is an online map and app that shows people places where they can find water to refill their bottles, rather than create plastic waste from single-use plastic bottles. We started just over a year ago after a discussion with sustainable businesses owners in the BookGreener Community about how we can provide a solution to the plastic waste problem generated from the tourism industry, as well as highlight businesses that are taking action. Our idea was to build a network of refill stations that provide clean drinking water for travelers, and display them on an interactive online map.
Bali has over 5 million tourist arrivals every year and tourism has impacted the island in many ways. While the economy benefits from the growing number of tourists, the environment is increasingly degraded with a lack of waste management systems contributing to this. As it is unsafe to drink tap water in Indonesia, travelers seemingly have no option other than buying water in plastic bottles and it’s estimated that over 6 million plastic bottles are discarded every month from tourists alone. Most of the plastic waste ends up in landfills, the ocean, or is burned which creates toxic fumes. RefillMyBottle offers a solution that tackles the problem at the source.
We launched this initiative in early 2017 and were originally named RefillBali, listing just the BookGreener properties. As the project grew we had lots of interest from surrounding destinations outside Bali and decided to expand the project across Indonesia (and beyond!) with a new name - RefillMyBottle.
Currently RefillMyBottle has a network of almost 300 RefillStations in Indonesia. Most are located in Bali and the Gili islands, but we are growing in Flores, Labuan Bajo, and Yogyakarta too. With the help of local ambassadors, RefillMyBottle is slowly spreading to other countries, and the technology is available to anyone who would like to use it. Our aim is to build a global community of responsible travellers, locals, and businesses who take action to reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles and we want to eventually spread our solution throughout the world.
Our network of RefillStation consists of hotels, resorts, restaurants, cafes, dive shops, retail shops, yoga studios and many other businesses. The process of signing up to be a RefillStation is relatively simple - businesses fill out an online form, collect or print a RefillMyBottle sticker to be displayed at their entrance, and post a photo on their social media to let their world know about their involvement with the project. It is free for any business to be a RefillStation and the only required criteria is that they are accessible to the public and that they offer clean drinking water. In places where the tap water is not potable, the water come either from a filter or gallon, and businesses can decide whether they want to provide it for free or a small fee.
"With Refill My Bottle, we offer a very useful and simple alternative to people who want an alternative to plastic bottles. With the app, they can view where to refill. For any business anywhere in the world wanting to join, all they need to do is go to www.refillmybottle.com and fill in a short questionnaire. That's it and it is completely free," says founder Alex Tsuk to Gaia Discovery.
We love to see the excitement and positive response from businesses in our network of RefillStations, as Rafi Papazian, the owner of Monsieur Spoon (a chain of cafes and bakeries in Bali), explained “I loved the project RefillMyBottle from the start. In my shops from the beginning I offered free water to all guests, and the idea to open it to everyone for little or no money or donation was instantly attractive. The Idea of being part of a community spending energy to do something for our planet, the idea of saying it loud through a collective brand was exactly what had to be done.”
Other than expanding our RefillStations network, we are continually spreading the word about RefillMyBottle so that travelers and visitors who are in or coming to Bali are aware of this option as an alternative to buying plastic bottles. One of our refillers, Louisa Pitney, explained "Before I came to Bali I was told that I would need to buy bottled water and at the start of my trip I was buying plastic water bottles every day. It hurt part of my soul each time because I knew that these bottles I was buying and throwing away would stay in Bali after I left, or end up in the ocean. When I learned about RefillMyBottle I was relieved - there is another way! There are many places in Bali that offer free refills, once you know about the map and app it's so easy!”.
Our RefillStations give out over 5000 litres of water each month, preventing the use of over 10,000 plastic bottles. We hope that RefillMyBottle community will keep growing and making a positive impact throughout the globe.
Find out more:
instagram: @refillmybottle_ join
Facebook group: RefillMyBottle Community Group
Read Gaia Discovery's interview with Alex Tsuk on the rise of responsible tourism business community in Bali