Cheers to Change: Wrapping Up Our Refill Communities’ Remarkable 2023 Journey
The festive season has arrived and that means we are close to winding down on what has been a fantastic year for our Refill Community action!
Thanks to ALL your hard work and dedication to the #RefillRevolution, we’ve managed to create some exciting developments within the refill and reuse industry and, in doing so have created some long lasting, impactful memories along the way.
As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s time to pop the metaphorical champagne and celebrate some of the incredible milestones we’ve achieved together in our Refill Community Schemes across the UK and worldwide. Your commitment, passion, and downright bravery have made this year unforgettable. Let’s dive into the highlights of our eco-adventure and take a look back!
What drives our Refill Communities
Let’s remind ourselves why we’re here. Our Refill Community Schemes, driven by the collective desire for a more sustainable, circular tomorrow, have been the beating heart of our Refill campaign. From the get-go, we aimed to create a ripple effect of change, and boy, have we made waves! Our Refill Schemes range from small, local community groups who want to reduce pollution in the town, city or region where they live, to NGOs, councils, municipalities and national governments who are representing Refill on a National level and have targets and commitments to reduce waste and connect people to free-drinking water.
Refill Communities are working on the ground connecting people to reuse solutions and support businesses with reducing single-use plastic.
Key achievements in 2023
1. Our growing Refill Revolution
High-fives all around, folks! The Refill Revolution is in full swing. We’ve seen an astounding increase in participation, with more businesses and individuals joining the Refill movement!
We have welcomed 20 new Refill Communities this year!
We now have 35,336 Refill Stations across the globe!
We have had over 100,000 app downloads throughout this year!
2. Refill Communities have been busy making waves
Refill Lancing, run by the Community group ‘Keep Lancing Lovely’, were so pleased to be awarded the Community Award Winner for “Environmental Group of the year 2023”!!! They also did some great Refill promotion around WRD 2023.
Refill Burnham & Highbridge, have kicked off their Refill Campaign with a some fantastic press coverage in their local Burnham-on-sea News – Enjoy a little browse here!!! They’ve been busy out and about in their town signing up businesses and have already engaged with 12+ local businesses! They held a celebration for businesses that have signed up Refill to present a certification and applauded their involvement with the Refill initiative. They also hosted a Refill stand at their local town Eco festival on the 30th of September.
Refill Eastbourne held an opening ceremony for WRDin which they highlighted 7 fountains across Eastbourne with volunteers and Refill banners at each fountain. They have recently had a very successful beach clean covering 94 beaches along the seafront with support from their volunteers who have ‘adopted a beach’ – all 94 beaches have now been adopted!
Refill Camden have been actively promoting not only water refills, but refills of household items as well. Plastic Free July saw Refill Camden stationed at markets across the borough with empty jars/bottles to fill up on household products, dried herbs, spices and teas – they had their market stand locations available on the Camden Gov website! Here is Refill Camden in ACTION!!
Refill Merton have also been actively promoting Refill across their social channels sharing some great pictures throughout Plastic Free July, highlighting the importance of using your reusables as well as directing residents and visitors to download the Refill app! They have a lovely fountain within the town – have a peek here!!
Refill Gorleston have been incredibly busy attending local events on behalf of Refill. They attended ‘Out There’ festival in Great Yarmouth in September where they promoted Refill, engaging with attendees, and highlighting the Refill app and local Refill stations!
Refill Aylsham who have been SUPER active since joining, held a Refill launch during their Aylsham Town Green Day earlier this year with the support from Norfolk Council – Refill Norfolk (Refill Destination) who have been working closely with their several Community led Schemes to cooperate on agendas and needs and support volunteers with capacity where needed!
Refill Wimborne, run by Wimborne Ware on Waste group, have also been busy signing up Refill stations and attending local events. They held a stand at The Green Festival on the Minster Green on 14th October where they showcased the positive collaborations with the town council on introducing a reusable festival cup and their NEW fountain! They also held a Refill stand at a local talk by Megan McCubbin from Spring Watch on the 15th October, which the local upper school hosted!
Refill Margate celebrated a massive win managing after 2 years of campaigning and fundraising, to get Thanet District Council to install Thanet’s first dedicated water fountain on Margate Main Sands! The water fountain was paid for 100% by the community, who have been donating to Refill Margate, run by Rise Up Clean Up, over the past few years. The installation and maintenance of the fountain will be the responsibility of Thanet District Council. Rise Up Clean Up Margate hope that this will be a massive step towards plastic reduction around Main Sands beach, eliminating the need to purchase single use plastic bottles and providing a convenient place to refill reusable water bottles.
Refill In the Highlands is made up of 7 community groups in the highlands! All the individual community groups have a shared goal around engaging businesses with refill and reuse, targeting tourist spots, hotels and local stops for people travelling around the highlands!
3. World Refill Day Highlights 2023
We had some incredible engagement and promotion from our Community, Council and Destination schemes for this year’s World Refill Day!
- Refill Swindon – The Swindon Hub hosted a stand for the day offering free tea and coffee for reusable containers, a WRD dedicated show on the local radio among many other
- Refill Eastbourne – More dolphin fountains launched World Refill Day, with the Mayor inaugurating the most recently installed Refill Stations in the town in 8locations.
- Refill Gorleston celebrated World Refill Day with a stand at Great Big Green Week taking place at Market Gates in Gorleston. They had a fab Refill Stand along with some hand sewn Refill droplets made by ‘Say It With Stich’ they also highlighted their new Refill Station – Pavilion Theatre & Bandstand Gorleston
- Destination Southend-on-Sea promoted Refill on the Southend Pier – this was their first World Refill Day as Refill Destination Southend. The Climate Change team spoke to visitors and local businesses about refill and reuse systems
- Refill Stroud released a press release using the press release template from the toolkit
- Refill Lancing held an event on World Refill Day at the local beach and had a stall at the local Green Dreams event during The Big Green week on Sunday 18th June.
4. Our continued community engagement & outreach
This year we presented to two working groups as part of our work with Destinations which has been a positive engagement opportunity that will enable wider Refill action across towns and cities.
- This year we presented to Southend Poverty Steering Group of around 20+ local businesses community groups. Following the presentation, we were contacted by SAVs organisations supporting volunteer groups about hosting a webinar for their 50+ community groups to discuss Refill in communities and how they can get involved in the #REFILLREVOLUTION!
- We also presented to GMCA district council groups about our Refill Communities and how Councils can engage their community highlighting our work with Norfolk Destination and our Norfolk based communities. We have another ask to hold a webinar for their community groups which is exciting!
- Our communities team has focused on reengaging existing Refill Communities to drive change and inspire action. We have focused on developing a comprehensive community strategy for 2024 which will outline actions for our Refill communities with clear guidance and resources for them to follow entering in to 2024.
5. Support and resources continued
Our Fundraising Pack Launched! YAY! This is a great asset for our Refill Communities as it allows us to support them in engaging with more local and national events on behalf of their Refill commitments.
World Refill Day Impact Report! Our detail report showcases the positive reach and impact of all our Refill supporters, Communities and councils and their hard work driving Refill forward nationally and internationally.
6. Our Wonderful Partnerships
We’ve forged some amazing relationships with our City to Sea partners who have had a strong focus on supporting our Refill Community work, allowing us to develop resources and materials to support our schemes, as well as shining a spotlight on our community Heros. We say goodbye to Chilly’s this year, but we raise a glass to them and say a BIG thank you for all the support they have provided to our #RefillRevolution. You can see our Refill Communities in action as part of our Community Heroes project. Together, we’re a force to be reckoned with, and the possibilities for positive change are endless.
7. Edu-Tainment Extraordinaire
Our educational initiatives have been a wave of fun and learning. Through our Community Training Program, we’ve enabled our Refill Ambassadors to gain insight and knowledge in to the different aspects of our Refill campaign, from fundraising and marketing to how to lobby their local council. The trainings have encouraged our Refill communities to spread the word about sustainability with a dash of humour and a lot of heart.
8. Refill Stations, everywhere
Drumroll, please! Thanks to your unwavering support, we’ve boosted our refill station infrastructure. We are now looking at supporting our Refill Communities and businesses in delivering wider refill and reuse options for people on the go, focusing on reusable coffee Cup schemes, takeaway packaging and a continued focus on behaviour change within wider community groups.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what some of our Refill Community champions have to say:
“Refilling bottles and reusable coffee cups is becoming the new normal on the island of Mull thanks to Refill” – Refill Mull
“I just love the formality of the Refill campaign, it is something genuine that so many people can get behind rather than some ad hoc campaign which works temporarily. This has real momentum to make real change and that is exciting.” Anonymous Refill Community
“We loved that Refill provided a positive action that people could take to solving plastic crisis and in my local area litter issue. It is also a behaviour change that is accessible and easy for people to take”. – Refill Loch Lomond and Trossachs
“I thought Refill was an effective and simple accessible way to make a difference in reducing plastic waste for anyone and everyone to take part”. – Refill Gorleston
“I got involved with Refill because I never have this type of volunteering experience previously, so I really want to experience it and also hope to contribute to society”. – Anonymous volunteer
Challenges and Lessons Learned:
We may not be able to change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails to steer closer to our destination. Our actions are not without challenges and learnings. Thanks to all YOUR continued feedback we are able to re-direct our action and impact so that we continue to keep our WHY in the forefront of all we do at RefillHQ! We aim to create lasting behaviour change to a single-use plastic epidemic and provide upstream solutions for individuals, businesses, and organisations to have access to refill and reuse options on the go. We appreciate all your feedback and please continue to help us steer the good ship Refill – it’s invaluable to us!
As we wrap up this incredible year, let’s raise our reusable bottles to each one of you. Your bravery, balance, and unwavering support have made 2023 a year to remember. We’re just getting started, and together, we’ll continue to make waves, one refill at a time.
Share your stories, spread the word, and let’s keep the #RefillRevolution rolling. Together, we’ll make 2024 even more remarkable!
Here’s to a sustainable future – let’s refill, rejoice, and repeat!
With love and gratitude,
The Refill Team 🌱💙✨