Got The Thirst

Top your water bottle up for free at refill stations across Southeast Asia

With tourism booming in Southeast Asia, concern about sustainable and responsible tourism is a growing conversation. How do we visit the most naturally breathtaking places in the world and preserve rather than destroy them? This is a question being asked by the organization BGreener, and being answered with a conscientious new app: RefillMyBottle.

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“Seven years ago, I decided to make a community of like-minded business change-makers. It’s a community of caring business owners promoting nature-based tourism. If there is overtourism and pollution, it is unlikely to attract visitors anymore. So the bigger impact was proving there is a better way of collaborating. Is it possible to have a different way of doing business? Can we do good and can we do well at the same time? BGreener honors the fact that they are business owners and want to grow their businesses. We solve each other’s problems with different communication streams and tools, promotion, and trusted sources of information… Whatever you’re gonna give, you’re gonna receive, but not always the way you expect,” says Alex Tsuk, Friend Maker and head of BGreener.

Alex became interested in ecotourism and sustainable travel years ago and has worked in hospitality in France, Laos and Bali. He has two children who are an inspiration to his work, “I want to preserve them, I want to be positive and optimistic about the world because I have a responsibility towards them. If I don’t do anything for them, I will let them down.”

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The website and app, RefillMyBottle, is an initiative that was started by the folks at BGreener in an effort to reduce plastic water bottle waste beginning in Bali, then spreading throughout Southeast Asia, and now all over the world, “Bali is an iconic destination. At the same time, it’s tremendously under pressure. There is hardly any water in the ground in Bali and the amount of waste is off-putting for many tourists. That combination makes it the right place to demonstrate ‘if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere,’” says Alex.

RefillMyBottle is active with over 900 free water bottle refill stations in nine countries, including right here in Vietnam. Utilizing Google Maps, all partnering businesses near your location appear with a red pin and are also readable in a list view, making it extremely user friendly, ”In everything we do, we are solution oriented. We tackle a very simple problem, which is plastic waste and single use plastic waste. Having a map of all the places in the world they can refill their water bottle is common sense,” Alex says. There are already over 130 refill stations in Vietnam, with one station saving 10,000 bottles in a single year alone. That’s direct impact.

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By including your business, hotel or space as a free water bottle refill station on the app, the potential for exposure and growth is incredible. The makers of RefillMyBottle know and respect that a business’s greatest need is to make money, “you get people through the door, the more you appear on search engines etc, the better. If you offer free water, they are likely to purchase a juice or pizza—people refill as they do something else. RefillMyBottle is… you want to show you care a little bit, that’s a good place to start: ‘I care even though I might not do much yet, but I will start,’” Alex says.

The best part about the app? It’s amazingly simple, “Go to RefillMyBottle.com and click ‘list my business’ or download the app and add your business, it’s done in two minutes,” says Alex. Customers can also recommend businesses they would like to see refill stations in. Once the business confirms, it’s on the app. Then, all the business has to do is provide a water bottle refill station.

As travelers and tourists continue to appreciate what the earth gives us, it’s our responsibility to maintain the well-being of the places we enjoy so immensely. No effort is too small, and the individual practice of many can mean enormous change overall. By introducing an easy-to-use app with huge difference making power, RefillMyBottle is going global and making taking steps towards sustainable tourism as easy as a download and a few clicks.

Images Provided by BGreener

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