Good news for refill lovers in the Netherlands: you can now use Google Maps to find the nearest public water tap! For example at train stations, squares or in a national park. Just search for ‘water tap’ on Google Maps. Almost 2.000 water taps are already in the system, thanks to Dopper.
GOOGLE MAPS VS. SPECIALIZED WATER REFILL APPS
Even though we are not the biggest fan of Google, we are happy with this new development. Fact is that Google Maps is the most used navigation platform in the Netherlands. So we hope more people will find their way to a water tap.
In 2018 we wrote a blog about different refill apps, and the need for a global system. For example The Netherlands may be a small country, but there are different refill apps/platforms (Drinkwaterkaart, Publiek Water, etc.). Some apps like Refill and mymizu cover multiple countries and also include refill stations in private places, such as bars and restaurants. We support the organisations behind these refill apps to continue their hard work. Because they raise awareness and save single-use bottles!
However, the problem is that these apps are less well-known. Plus people are used to one navigation app (Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc). This is the main reason that we as Refill Ambassadors did not create our own app.
NEXT STEP: EUROPE
Back to our main topic: using Google Maps to find public water taps. The refill points are currently only mapped for the Netherlands. Dopper wants to roll it out across the whole of Europe. And hopefully it will become available worldwide soon. But for now: check the overview of other refill platforms to find refill stations in other countries.
The Netherlands is full of festivals. Each weekend, thousands of visitors enjoy a day or weekend of music and performances. What are festivals doing to avoid plastic waste? How do they recycle? Last weekend, Refill Ambassadors Félice and Hella visited the Gardens of Babylon festival, Amsterdam.
1. REUSABLE CUPS
We still remember the days of festivals with single-use cups. What a total waste! Towards the end of the night, you almost had to swim against the current of plastic trash. Luckily, these days are gone. Almost all festivals now use reusable cups with a deposit system.
We noticed that some party animals still threw their cups on the ground. So in the end of the night, we spotted quite some broken cups. But most people carefully kept their cups.
2. TAP WATER
Most festivals serve free potable tap water next to the toilets. Last weekend it was quite warm and visitors were frequently refilling.
3. CUP & COIN COLLECTION
All beverages— so cups, cans and bottles— had €1.50 deposit on it. Hella joined a ‘Cup & Coin’ volunteer shift. For a couple of hours she was in charge to collect empty cups and provide people with a deposit coin. Overall the shift was a lot of fun. Plus she got free access to the festival.
All waste was being seperated directly on the spot. Plastic bottles, cans, and bottle caps were collected seperately. The food court used biodegradable plates and cutlery. Together with food waste this was collected in one big container. We are not sure what happens next.
STILL ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
This festival organisation clearly tries to waste less plastics. Still, there is room for improvements. We suggest:
Allowing visitors to bring their own reusable bottle
Better inform the visitors upon arrival about the cup & coin system
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
We are curious to hear your opinion about sustainability measures at festivals. Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Do you want to contribute to sustainable systems at festivals in the Netherlands? Become a Revolution volunteer! You will get amazing rewards (e.g. free access to festivals).
On a beautiful sunny autumn day, refill ambassadors Hella and Félice went for an “open tap challenge” In the city center of Amsterdam: would venues open their tap for people, passengers of all kinds, just to have their water bottles filled? And so we approached cafe, boutique shop and supermarket staff.
Besides improving ourselves each time at enthusing merchants of their potential in reducing single use plastics, we got to know this lovely quarter better. What a high density of coffee shops!
Many people we spoke with supported Refill Ambassadors’ ideas, but they would need to check with their bosses if we could paste a “Refill” window sticker, or add their site to the “Refill” app to chart free water points. Some merchants did not hesitate to join the refillution – no big deal; tap water is for everyone!
We could say our challenge was a success by adding 5 new refill stations – free water points for everyone. People who cross a doorstep for a refill may just as well become customers!
WELCOME, NEW REFILL STATIONS:
Thank you for spreading our tasty water to the people. Do you own a bar, café, restaurant or shop and do you want to open your tap to the public? Become a refill station! Please contact us, so we can help you.
Around the world, there are thousands public drinking fountains. Refill your bottle during your citytrip, walk in the dunes or weekly workout.Free fresh water, no plastic needed! We love public fountains.But they can be hard to spot. It’s like searching for an ATM machine: when you really need them, you cannot find any. We know a solution: use the free water refill app Closca or mymizu.
WHERE DO I FIND PUBLIC FOUNTAINS?
Use your phone to locate an increasing number of public water fountains around the world! Water refill apps are free to use. We recommend you to use Closca and mymizu, as they cover the largest number of refill points, including many public fountains. We see many similarities between Closca and mymizu. Both apps work with user-feedback: you can suggest new refill stations (including public fountains) through the app.
Closca Water app started in June 2019, and lists >200.000 refill stations worldwide. The app works with a reward system, you collect points when refilling. Download Closca here.
mymizu was launched in September 2019. The app now displays almost 200.000 refill stations around the world. Download mymizu here.
WHO TAKES CARE OF PUBLIC DRINKING FOUNTAINS?
Who is responsible for the water fountains? How are they maintained? Who decides where to place new fountains? This really differs per country. We can only speak for the Netherlands. Here, drinking water is supplied by ten different public water system companies. These companies facilitate and maintain our public drinking fountains. For example Waternet provides the water fountains in the Amsterdam region, Evides in Rotterdam, etc. Sometimes this is done in collaboration with organisations like Join the Pipe.
PUBLIC DRINKING FOUNTAINS IN THE NETHERLANDS
Besides the apps Closca and mymizu, public fountains in the Netherlands are also mapped on the website Drinkwaterkaart.nl. The website (in Dutch) also displays free “pee-places” and “free-swimming-spots”.
Public water fountains in general are safe but they seem to suffer from an image problem. We think this is unfair. Just make sure to double check in areas where tap water is non-potable. To prevent bacteria/virusus from spreading, you can use some clothing when pressing the button.
What if there are no public fountains in your area? Try to refill your bottle in a bar, restaurant, shop. Don’t be shy, just ask!