Refilling station 'high water mark of local action'

The ReFILL station in Bude, Cornwall, is part of a growing national campaign to end the international disaster that is single use plastic pollution.

This has definitely been a success, but it is important for us to keep encouraging locals and visitors to ReFILL bottles instead of buying disposable ones.

The installation of a community water ReFILL station on the town centre Triangle in Bude, Cornwall, is being welcomed as the high water mark local action to tackle global environmental problems.

The water station was an idea that came from the local ReFILL movement, who have already had such an impact on minimising the use of non-recyclable and single-use plastics in our town through their cups and bottles.

The campaign began in Bude and has grown on a national scale: Michael Gove, the secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has been seen out and about with his ReFILL cup.

Power as consumers

Deb Rosser, founder of ReFILL, said: “I launched ReFILL in 2014 with Neil Hembrow, from Keep Britain Tidy’s project. It was a really simple idea – just take a refillable, reuseable water bottle into café or a restaurant or such, and get pure Cornish tap water, for free.

“We began producing the ReFILL cups and bottles that have become so well-known in our town. And these have taken off – we have sold thousands, and all of the profits from these go straight back into our local community - into the charity Friends of Bude Sea Pool.

“This has definitely been a success, but it is important for us to keep encouraging locals and visitors to ReFILL bottles instead of buying disposable ones. And so, the next logical part of our campaign was to install a local water station for all to use, for free! Anyone in our town can access water at any time, free of charge, and without harming the environment.”

She added: "We created a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds for the station, and it proved hugely popular - we managed to raise £3,905 in just 28 days, which has enabled us to purchase a state-of-the-art water station, which has three taps – one for refilling cups and bottles, one fountain for drinking on-the-go, and one to fill dog bowls, too.

“I hope everyone in our town can make full use of the water station. We have the power as consumers to help stop plastic going into landfill or ending up on our beaches! And, let’s remember, it’s not just about plastic, the production and transportation of bottled water costs ridiculous amounts of money and has a huge impact on carbon emissions. It’s all really unnecessary, especially since tap water is free.”

Healthy and hydrated

The water station is being installed voluntarily by local plumber Ali Gilbert. She said: “I’m so pleased to able to support this initiative organised by Deb at ReFILL. She has already done so much for her town, so I was glad to be able to help her with the pipework installation to get the station up and running.”

But to even get the plumbing done, there has been the requirement of a mini digger and a surprising amount of groundwork to secure a steady base for the water station, and luckily, local builder Jon Sleeman has also stepped in voluntarily, supplying the tools and people needed to organise this. Jon said: “Bude has a fantastic community, it’s so great that we can pull together with times like these to make our town an even more amazing place to live and visit.”

This has definitely been a success, but it is important for us to keep encouraging locals and visitors to ReFILL bottles instead of buying disposable ones.

Bude-Stratton Town Council are paying for the water supply to the station, and are also covering ongoing maintenance. Mayor Bob Willingham said: “We think this is a fantastic idea, and that the Bude ReFILL team have done a great job taking it from concept to reality. We believe the town will make good use of the water station, and so we are glad to support the installation however we can.”

Avril Sainsbury, from 8ight Design - and also founder of the Bude Cleaner Seas Project – is also voluntarily designing a plaque to recognise the water station. She said: “Deb does so much for our town – she even recently won a Bude Heroes Award for her efforts to protect our environment – so I was really glad to help her with the plaque design for this water station. Everyone at Bude Cleaner Seas Project see this as a great initiative that will help protect our sea and beaches from nasty plastic.”

Alan Hyde, head of community relations at South West Water, said: “As a founding member of the Refill initiative in Cornwall, we are delighted to see the installation of a community water ReFILL station in Bude. The new station will help protect the marine environment from plastic pollution, and at the same time help keep people healthy and hydrated when out and about.”

The water station is going to be installed on The Triangle in Bude over the coming weeks, and there will be a grand unveiling on Saturday 16th February, at 10.30am in which all are welcome to attend.

This author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Bude-Stratton Town Council. 

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