This post has been written by Cllr Tom Druitt, councillor for Regency Ward.
Today is National Refill Day – just the second National Refill Day ever. Today we are all being asked to carry a water bottle with us wherever we go, and to make it a habit. Keys, wallet, phone, water bottle… that’s what campaigners hope will go through our minds every time we leave the house.
So why is this important? According to Brighton Peace and Environment Centre, who run the Refill campaign in Brighton & Hove, in the UK alone an estimated 800 plastic bottles a minute go to landfill or end up as litter every minute. And what happens to it? According to the Guardian between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.
For anyone remotely concerned about the wellbeing of our planet and the creatures on it, this is clearly a big problem. But if you’re sitting there thinking this is all someone else’s problem, a long way away, consider this: if you eat fish and chips, the chances are that one in three of all the fish suppers you eat contains plastic.
How you can take action
So what can we do about it? Fortunately there is lots we can do. First up? Get yourself a nice, compact water bottle that you really like, and take it everywhere you go. Keys, wallet, phone, water bottle. Download the Refill app and hey presto, you have hundreds of filling stations at your fingertips. You’ll be delighted to know that the Brighton & Hove Green Party office in Surrey Street is a Refill station.
Next up? Buy yourself a trendy reusable mug, and you’ll get discounts at many local coffee shops. The Green Party office in Surrey Street has a good supply of natural bamboo fibre reusable mugs, so you can pick one up when you fill up your water bottle! And then save yourself money as well as a huge amount of plastic waste. Keys, wallet, phone, water bottle, coffee cup.
And then? The possibilities are endless. We are lucky in Brighton & Hove that we have a lot people involved in tackling the scourge of plastic pollution. If you drink milk, set yourself up with a Brighton Milk delivery, where you can get milk, fruit juice and a whole load of other things in refillable bottles. Or try Milk & More, who have a range of over 70 plastic free products. Go shopping in WasteNot, Brighton’s zero-waste store, or HiSbe, where you can fill up your own containers with nuts, pulses, rice, pasta and washing up liquid, and leave with all your shopping for the week and no plastic. Join Plastic Free Brighton on Facebook and get heaps of ideas, and before you buy anything, anywhere, visit Brighton Freegle to see if there’s anyone giving it away.
Your action makes a difference
Does it make a difference? You bet. Waitrose recently announced a trial of refillable options in its Oxford store, with a view to rolling out nationwide if successful. And Tesco followed suit with a trial in two stores removing plastic packaging from its fruit and veg. Do you think either firm would have done it without local campaigns, and without local stores like HiSbe doing it first? No, of course they wouldn’t.
So on this National Refill Day, make a commitment to go plastic free in every area you can, and push for action where you can’t. Carry your refillable water bottle, download the Refill app, use your refillable coffee cup, and if you drink milk, buy it in a refillable glass bottle. Why? Not because your actions are going to make a huge dent in the world’s plastic problem by themselves – they won’t. But what they will do is force businesses and governments to take the action that is required to address the problem at a national – and global – level. And that’s worth it, for all our sakes.