By Zoe Kramer | Head of News
The Refill Campaign is more accessible than ever with the launch of the new Refill app. Cardiff users can now locate businesses willing to refill their water, coffee, groceries, and other supplies, all without single use plastics.
The Refill campaign began in Bristol in 2015. It was pioneered by Natalie Fee, the founder of City-to-Sea, a non-for profit organisation that aims to tackle plastic pollution at source. It was officially launched in Wales in 2018 and the Refill Cardiff Scheme, led by Cardiff Water Research Institute, began in November 2018.
Over 100 businesses in Cardiff have partnered with the Refill Campaign. Partnered businesses range from local shops to large chains such as Costa and Morrisons.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has halted many aspects of daily life, it is still very much possible to reduce plastic use, said local coordinator of Refill Cardiff Julia Terlet. “City to Sea recently created industry guidance on how to safely offer Water Refills and Contactless Coffee and are trying to reusables back on the menu. It is important to inform people that over 120 health scientists have stated reusables are safe as long as basic hygiene is followed I.e. wash your hands!
“There have been 0 cases of COVID-19 being transmitted through food or food packaging. Whilst no-one can say it’s “impossible” (as it’s a new virus and everyone is uber cautious), even the FCA says “it’s very unlikely””
The process of making daily changes in the interest of a greener future can be an overwhelming one, particularly when there are many causes being championed, ranging from purchasing electric vehicles to water-saving shower heads to reducing meat consumption.
Terlet states, “In my opinion, all these problems are equally important and should be tackled simultaneously. We hear a lot about climate change and global warming, but environmental issues such as the depletion of natural resources and the loss of biodiversity, which are also exacerbated by our current lifestyles, are as important. These environmental issues cannot be addressed separately and require a holistic approach.
“For instance, plastic pollution puts pressure on our ecosystems, from rivers to oceans, but also requires large amounts of water and energy for production. Being careful about recycling and littering is crucial – plastic items can remain in the environment for hundreds of years – but it is also important to reduce usage in the first place. We are using up natural resources to produce disposable plastic items, such as plastic bottles, when we have alternative options (and the chance in the UK to have access to zero-waste shops and clean tap water for refills). Using reusables is an easy change that many of us can make without disrupting our lifestyles.”
With the knowledge that the majority of climate change is based on the actions of large companies rather than individuals, many have lost hope that their choices can make a difference, particularly in the student age group. Climate change has also been shown to affect mental health.
Terlet responds “I would say do not underestimate the influence that you can have on other people. The direct impact of your behaviour might be small but indirectly you can participate in bringing impactful collective change by starting conversations about these issues. Through history, progress often started with individuals getting together and questioning the status quo. The issue of plastic pollution was particularly brought to light by Blue Planet II and the reactions it created among the public later encouraged changes in policy regarding the use of single-use plastics.”