Little Green Duckie on reducing plastic, saving money and time with a reusable water bottle

Here in the UK we are very lucky to have safe, clean drinking water from the tap. It is highly regulated and tested, even more than bottled water. I have got into the habit of always taking my reusable bottle out and about. Just like making sure I have my keys or phone.

In East London, Thames Water provides our water. It is considered hard, due to the naturally occurring levels of calcium carbonate. Fluoride is not added but does naturally occur, at very low levels compared with other areas. The Thames Water websiteenables consumers to find out all about the water treatment process and download the latest water quality report.

There are so many reusable bottle options on the market I can make sure I have the right bottle depending what I am doing and where I am going. Collapsible, metal, insulted, filtered, big or small!

To vary the taste of water I keep a large bottle in the fridge, adding a range of herbs, or fruit, depending what’s in season. At this time of year mint, cucumber or strawberries are lovely. In the winter fresh ginger, thyme, or parsley. To save money grow herbs on your window sill or outside space. I don’t use citrus fruits too often as the acid can damage tooth enamel if used regularly.

Since I downloaded the free Refill App, it is now so much easier than it used to be to fill up my water bottle when I am out. It connects me with 20,000+ Refill stations across the UK via a location-based app, and all the business that signed up do notexpect me to make a purchase. Some of the big nationwide chains include Leon, Costa, Pret, Greggs and Wetherspoon. All the Network Rail-owned stations now have a public water point and you can find the exact location inside your favourite station at:

As well as saving me money, I try to avoid single-use plastic bottles for a number of other reasons;

  • Some contain BPA, a chemical to make plastic hard and clear. This has been shown to be a hormonal system disrupter. The long-term effects are not fully known, but are suspected to be negative.
  • Plastic bottle lids (along with other plastic waste) may be accidentally eaten by birds and sea creatures.
  • It takes oil (which is running out) and water (which should be used for farming and drinking) to manufacture each bottle.
  • Bottling plants are responsible for water shortages around the world. There are lawsuits against companies (especially Nestlé & Coca-Cola) for taking too much water in the USA, India and Brazil.
  • Some bottled water travels more than 10,000 miles to the UK.

When flying, I empty my reusable bottle before security, take it through, and use the Water for London list to see where I can fill it up on the other side. I try and have enough to avoid the single-use bottled water on the plane.

In some countries the tap water is not safe to drink. I don’t have facilities to boil it, and I don’t want to use chemicals to sterilize it. So I use a filter bottle designed to remove microbiological hazards, pesticides, metals and other chemicals. This saves me money – and the challenge of running out of water when the shops are closed!

Do you want to see more water points in London?
Tell TFL and the train companies you want to see a water fountain at your local station. Take a thirsty selfie with your reusable bottle. Tag TFL or the train company. Ask them #WheresMyWaterFountain??

About Little Green Duckie
Little Green Duckie (Justine) lives in Stratford and is a Sustainability blogger who envisions a disposable-plastic free city. Challenges rail companies on water fountains, book swap guardian and loves a litter pick.
Facebook: @LittleGreenDuckie
Twitter: @LttlGreenDuckie