We all know that plastic is destroying the environment. We all watched that episode of Blue Planet which shows the extent to which we’re poisoning the world.
But still, for some reason, most of us still mindlessly consume products which are encased in the destructive substance, because it’s easy.
Many of us would rather buy a plastic bottle of water than refill a metal one with tap or even filtered water, just because of the convenience of the former option.
And in an effort to combat that truth, a new network of drinking fountains and bottle-refill points is set to be rolled out across London to reduce the amount of waste from single-use plastic.
According to The Guardian, the drinking fountains will first be rolled out across London in a pilot scheme over the next few months.
The scheme will include drinking fountains across the city, and a bottle-refill initiative, in which businesses make tap water available to the public. There are also plans afoot to make plastic cups, bottles and cutlery available at City Hall.
The scheme will last three years, and cost £750,000, though it’s hard to put a price on the value of the reduction of plastic in everyday use in the UK’s largest city.
The #BluePlanet2 team collected every piece of plastic they came across while filming.
— BBC Earth (@BBCEarth) November 12, 2017
The deputy mayor for environment, Shirley Rodrigues, told The Guardian:
We shouldn’t be using single-use plastics, the impact on the environment is so immense. We just need to get on now and stop their use in London.
Drinking fountains are in woefully short supply across the country, with no working fountains in major cities like Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham. Across England’s 36 metropolitan boroughs, only eight fountains were working.
The latest plans are part of a move by London mayor Sadiq Khan to reduce plastic across the city, including the reduction of plastic packaging, as well as making sure no biodegradable or recyclable waste is sent to landfill by 2026.
The locations of the fountains haven’t yet been confirmed, but it has been confirmed busy tube stations and busy shopping areas are likely to be the sites, with more fountain possibilities in the coming months.
Along with the businesses offering free tap water, there will come an app where commuters and tourists can find the closest refill points to them, as well as businesses advertising the free tap water in their windows.
We are going to be looking at partnerships with organisations like business improvement districts and boroughs and others to understand where we can install more water fountains.
Originally, Network Rail weren't supportive of using water fountains in their stations, but thankfully, they have made a U-turn on their stance.
A December statement confirmed there were no plans to install fountains in their facilities, but they have since confirmed they are now looking into the installation of fountains in their stations.
Paul O'Connell, of the Drinking Fountain Association, said:
In the past we have had vague promises and announcements, so to hear specifics around numbers -and, most importantly, dates - is really good. Obviously summer is when demand for water goes up, so having [fountains] in time for this summer will help.
What a great initiative, lets just hope other major cities like Manchester and Liverpool take the steps to reduce single-use plastics in the same way.