Bali is an island that tourism has impacted in a myriad of ways. Over 5 million travellers visit this island every year, staying in for at least 2 or 3 days. During these days, they will need to buy bottled water to support their daily activities. Now, this is the ugly truth. The lack of waste management systems means that these water bottles end up in landfills, the ocean, or are burned which creates toxic fumes. It is clear that the problem needs to be tackled at the source by reducing consumption of plastic water bottles. So, the main question is, “Without buying water out of a water bottle, how do we ensure access to clean drinking water?”
A group of sustainable businesses on Bali came up with the simple idea of providing access to drinking water to all who need it without having to buy a plastic water bottle. RefillMyBottle, which was originally RefillBali, was created with a mission to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles used unnecessarily throughout the world, starting in Indonesia. RefillMyBottle is a community of responsible travellers, conscious locals and mindful business owners who act against plastic waste. Aiming to convert travellers’ behaviour from buying plastic bottles into refilling it, this community also automatically raises awareness of solutions to the ongoing plastic issue.
They have created a map of all the places in Bali and beyond where people can fill up their bottles with clean water for free or for a small fee. This map can point to a café, resort, museum, shop or any place where Refillers can simply walk in and get their bottles filled. Anyone can be a Refiller by refilling their bottle instead of using disposable plastic ones.
Refills are now available at over 250 RefillStations, and their map to locate these refill spots is also accessible via a smartphone app, available in both the App store and Google Play. Any local business can be listed as a RefillStation by registering online at www.RefillMyBottle.com. The only requirement is it has to be accessible to the public and offer clean, healthy and drinkable water. Once everything is checked and cleared, some promotion tools to establish your RefillStation will be provided (ex: stickers and posters). After you have sticker on display, you will be added to the map.
Neighbouring islands (The Gilis, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan) that face the same issue have also joined in the fight against plastic waste. Local RefillAmbassadors, or better known as volunteer experts who know their environments better than anyone, work to establish RefillStations in their own communities. This means that RefillMyBottle is constantly expanding, both geographically and in the number of RefillStations listed on the map.
The RefillAmbassadors and RefillStations are supported by a small and motivated team who call themselves Wateriors. This team develops and leads the community by building and maintaining connections among community members, inspiring a conscious lifestyle and measuring impacts. The tools needed to promote the whole project are supported by RefillMyBottle, including a website, app and communication materials.
There are so many things we can do to support this noble cause. But at the very least, we can start by not buying plastic bottles next time we are thirsty!