Mayor Sadiq Kahn intends to drastically reduce his consumption of bottled water.
Finding a place for a pint is pretty easy in London. But quench your thirst with a refreshing drink of tap water? That may be more complicated than you think.
London, like other older European cities, is a city with public water fountains in its DNA. The British water fountain 'movement' began in earnest in 1859 following the establishment of the Metropolitan Free Drinking Water Association and the installation of London's first public water fountain at the outer gate of St Sepulcher's Church without Newgate .
Founded "at the bottom of a disgusting River Thames filled with untreated sewage, garbage and factory effluents, water-borne cholera, but most importantly, inadequate drinking water," the association changed its name to the Metropolitan Fountain of Drinking Fountains. and Cattle in 1867 promoting animal welfare. (Today, it is simply known as the Drinking Fountains Association.)
However, over the decades these Victorian-era bubblers, some ornate in design, have fallen into decline and are now quite rare in certain areas of the British capital. According to drinking fountain data compiled by The Guardian, while some London boroughs like Lambeth have a decent number (25 in total) of public fountains located in parks and other green spaces, other municipalities have none in the immediate future to install some. Overall, London's 32 city councils oversee 111 publicly accessible drinking fountains and recharging stations.
However, the terrible drought of water sources in London will soon come to an end.
In an effort to curb the atrocious waste associated with the consumption of single-use bottled water, London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed an interest in opening an extensive network of public drinking fountains and water bottle refilling stations across the city. city, paying special attention to drinking water is a shortage.
"The mayor wants to see a reduction in the number of single-use plastic bottles and cups in the capital and has asked city council officials to examine the feasibility of a pilot community water recharge plan or other interventions." said a spokesman for Khan. In a statement. "Sadiq helps municipalities identify suitable locations for water fountains and bottle refilling stations during the planning process in new or remodeled public spaces, such as city centers, shopping centers, parks and squares."
As well as installing new fountains and charging stations, Kahn also aims to launch an initiative where thirsty Londoners and visitors could go to local businesses - restaurants, pubs, shops and the like - for a free recharge rather than spending on a bottle of water. The initiative is primarily inspired by Refill, a successful app-driven campaign that launched in Bristol during its reign as European Green Capital in 2015 and has since spread to other English cities and even further into continental Europe.
There are reportedly no plans to install sparkling water fountains in Paris as Londoners' love of bubbles is not as fervent as it is across the English Channel.
A boost from Parliament, too
It's not just Kahn who wants to keep residents healthy and hydrated, while reducing levels of plastic bottle waste.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has expressed his desire for a national expansion of public drinking fountains. Outside of London, it seems that the situation of the fountain is even more regrettable. The Guardian notes that all councils in the heavily urbanized metropolitan countries of Manchester, South Yorkshire and Merseyside reported having no drinking fountains in parks and high-traffic public areas.
"Worldwide, more than one million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles die each year from eating and becoming entangled in plastic waste," Gove said in a recent statement. “We have to make sure we use fewer plastic bottles, recycle them better and, most importantly, prevent them from ending up on our beaches and shores, in our seas and rivers, causing terrible harm to wildlife and ruining the landscape. "
A survey conducted earlier this year by YouGov and Keep Britain Tidy found that 70 percent of British consumers believe that drinking water should be more accessible. 59% of respondents indicated that they are more likely to use a reusable bottle regularly if refilling it outside the home would be easier and, in fact, less embarrassing. A third of those surveyed admitted to being shy about going to a random restaurant or pub and asking for water without buying anything else, although by law, companies where alcohol is served and consumed must provide free water on demand. It is the glass for which they can charge.
According to the English environmental charity Recycle Now, the average US household uses 480 single-use plastic drink bottles each year. Only an estimated 44 percent of these bottles are recycled. Considering every household in the US, this means that more than approximately 16 million discarded plastic bottles are thrown away each year. If placed end to end, the UK's unrecycled bottles could be stretched worldwide 31 times.
Cultural institutions take lead that avoids plastic
In November, the publicly funded Museum of Natural History announced that it would stop the sale of single-use bottled water as part of an effort to "reduce the flood of plastic in our seas." The museum, which receives 4.5 million visitors annually, supply plastic straws in its cafes and coffee shops. It plans to install additional drinking water fountains and recharging stations to compensate for the change.
Source (in English)