New drinking water fountains in London support Refill revolution
Three new public drinking water fountains have been installed across London as the first step in a wider rollout of 20 public drinking water fountains lead by the #OneLess campaign, a movement against disposable plastic bottles set up by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
The new fountains – one was installed in Heart of Valentines Park in Redbridge earlier this week and two more were installed in Liverpool Street station earlier this month – were announced by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the #OneLess Campaign and MIW Water Cooler Experts on Tuesday (28 August).
The fountains are financed by the London Drinking Fountain Fund, which was set up by #OneLess earlier this year, and supplied by MIW Water Cooler Experts, a #OneLess champion, and already appear to have been a success, with the two drinking fountains in Liverpool Street already having dispensed 8,000 litres of water between them since their installation.
The need to get a handle on the plastic bottle problem is clear, with the average Londoner getting through 175 bottles of water each year – over a billion as a city.
The three new fountains will form a web of 20 new fountains set to be installed in the upcoming months, with hopes that #OneLess will be able to install more before the end of the year. #OneLess’ first fountain was installed in March, in Kingly Court, Carnaby, and has been used to refill over 14,000 500-millilitre bottles of water since its usage began to be tracked in June.
In addition to the Kingly Court fountain and the three recently announced, 16 more fountains are set to be installed to complete the initial rollout. Located across a variety of highly populated areas such as the Natural History Museum and the Horniman Museum and Gardens to more local community areas and town centres, #OneLess has chosen areas where there is high footfall and the fountain will be both accessible and visible.
#OneLess is also working with other groups and organisations across the city to come up with solutions to the plastic bottle problem that go beyond the provision of free public drinking water, with initiatives such as the recently launched #OneLess Pioneer Network, which aims to enable local stakeholders to collaborate and put forward innovative new solutions to the fight against single-use plastic water bottles.
Appetite for drinking fountains
Commenting on the announcement, Sadiq Khan said: “Water fountains are a simple but effective way to encourage people to ditch daily ‘pointless’ plastic bottles and instead refill reusable bottles. With the hot weather we’ve seen this summer, the demand is greater than ever for quick and easy ways of accessing free drinking water and I’m pleased to confirm the locations for the first of our 20 new public water fountains. Some of these are already attracting thousands of visitors a day and we are working on plans to secure many more across London.”
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s Route Managing Director for Anglia, remarked upon the importance of tackling the problem in busy commuter centres, such as Liverpool Street station, saying: “I’m very excited about the benefits the water fountain will bring. Millions of people use Liverpool Street station every day and this free service will make a difference to them and the environment by reducing single-use plastics.”
Dr Heather Koldewey, Director of the #OneLess campaign and Head of Marine and Freshwater at ZSL, noted the enthusiasm in the nation’s capital for more refill opportunities, adding: “We were taken aback by the number of applications we received to install drinking fountains across London. There is definitely huge appetite in London to stop using single-use plastic and establish a new culture of refilling.”
This appetite for more public water fountains is not just restricted to London, with research carried out by anti-litter organisation Keep Britain Tidy in collaboration with BRITA in April 2018 finding that 78 per cent of the UK would like there to be greater availability of free tap water, with 64 per cent preferring to drink tap water over buying bottled water.
The work carried out by #OneLess is part of a wider movement towards encouraging the provision of free public drinking water across the UK. One of the largest proponents of this is the Refill movement, set up by Bristol-based anti-litter campaign City to Sea.
The Refill movement encourages businesses to offer free drinking water to the public, and even has an app helping people to locate their nearest Refill point. the first Refill project set up by City to Sea, Refill Bristol, now has over 200 bottle- refill points registered online, while the project has now been extended to 13 locations and over 1,600 refill points around the UK.
A trial of a Refill scheme was launched across London, with shops and businesses across the city signing up to offer free tap water refills to the public in March this year, with large chains such as Costa Coffee and major tourist attractions such as Tate Modern partaking in the trial.
Read more on the OneLess website and get involved, or follow #OneLess on Twitter at #OneLess or @OneLessBTL.