Hopefully anyone reading this is already aware of the plight of our oceans and the planet. There are multiple environmental issues that urgently need addressing, but one of them is the reduction of the production of disposable plastic. Plastics can harm our planet in many ways, many will have seen the devastating images of plastic pollution in the ocean. We also have the issue that plastic, although increasingly more recyclable, doesn't biodegrade in any significant time frame and so all plastic that has ever been made, still exists somewhere on the planet. The plastics that can be recycled are not making it back into the market in any significant numbers, as it's often cheaper for manufacturers to use the raw material than recycled material.
In 1950 the world produced only 2 million tonnes of plastic per year. Since then, annual production has increased nearly 200-fold, reaching 381 million tonnes in 2015. For context, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population (https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution)
We're therefore left with an increasing need to considerably reduce the amount of plastic being created in the first place. So, what can we do while we wait for the big perpetrators like Coca Cola, Nestlé and Unilever to find alternatives? We can start small, spread the word and become involved in local, regional, national and global initiatives to help combat plastic pollution.
Bottled water is thought to be consumed at a rate of 1 million bottles per minute across the globe. That's 1,440 MILLION bottles per day around the world - what!? Those numbers are almost inconceivable. When you know that a big percentage of that plastic has the potential to be waste that is mismanaged and therefore ends up polluting our oceans and water ways - it's really food for thought.
So talking of food and drink... It's a delicate issue because, as a bar/restaurant owner, I can imagine that a large portion of revenue is made from the sale of bottled water. There have been times recently I have asked to have my reusable water bottle re-filled only to be told that I have to buy bottled water from the shop. This has to change!
What can retailers and bar/restaurant owners do to help?
First and foremost, change your packaging. If you offer water in plastic bottles, consider offering water in glass bottles or even cartons or cans which are now becoming much more readily available on the market. Look for a supplier that can receive your empty bottles back for refill, like tonic water and other bottled drinks often are.
There will still be plenty of people who come out for dinner without smugly championing their reusable bottle... I certainly don't take mine to an evening meal - but I also won't buy bottled water from an establishment that sells it in plastic. As I write this I can't help but think of this as an astonishingly #firstworldproblem but the message is a good one, and, frankly, if we have the luxury of making a choice, then let's make the RIGHT choice.
Secondly, if your establishment is open during the day and you receive trade from passers by who may be savvy enough to bring a reusable bottle with them - then consider advertising the fact that you will happily refill people's water bottles from your tap. It doesn't cost you anything and may well result in a customer consuming something else in any case. I personally will only ask for a water refill if I have consumed something else in a bar/café anyway.
You could even work it to your advantage by appearing in an app that tells people where the local refill stations are in any given area in the globe. That way, you immediately attract people to your bar/restaurant/cafe that you may otherwise have never encountered - a great way to gain new custom!
The app we have discovered is called Tap and there are very few refill stations currently in our local area of Casares/Manilva, Western Costa del Sol, Spain. I have added the water refill station in San Luis de Sabinillas already, but it would be amazing to see where else in the area would be willing to offer a water refill to punters in the name of saving the planet... Will you be the first? Let us know in the comments when you have added your business.
Here is the link to add your business: https://findtap.com/join