The idea for “Water for Free” originated three years ago in an effort to reduce environmental damage caused by plastic bottles. With no financial resources, our initial plan was to map out the water fountains and dispensers throughout Hong Kong on google map and publish it onto our wordpress website. Luckily, Nuthon IT Solutions Limited volunteered to develop the iPhone mobile phone app and WYNG Foundation volunteered to develop the Android mobile phone app for Water for Free. By downloading the app, one can easily locate a water fountain or dispenser nearby and drink “water for free” rather than paying for outrageously overpriced bottled water, and in turn reduces the number of plastic bottles entering our landfills and ocean every day.

Thanks to a growing number of users and their efforts in notifying Water for Free of new water dispenser locations, we have mapped out over 1000 water dispenser locations on our Water for Free app. In the past year, a number of fast food chains (including McDonalds, Cafe de Coral, Maxim MX and Yoshinoya) have installed water dispensers at their newly renovated branches. Although their reason for doing so has nothing to do with environmental concerns (patrons use these self-serve water dispenser instead of asking their staff for water, hence lowers labour cost), installing water dispensers at such convenient locations has brought unintentional benefits of reducing the need for bottled water as it has become more convenient for people to refill their reusable water bottles. In addition to the unintentional good deed by the fast food industry, recently we have been contacted by an independent restaurants, coffee shops and community centres – they welcomed everyone to come to their premise and use their water dispensers for free. Salute to their generosity and love for the environment.

In order to step up our effort to SAY NO TO BOTTLED WATER, we stepped out of the virtual world. On 25 September 2016, we installed three water dispensers in the West Kowloon Culture Zone to provide Water for Free to all participants of the Pink Dot HK event. Thanks to the event organizer’s love and support for the environment, we recorded over 3000 participants drinking water or refilling water bottles from the three water dispensers during the 5 hour event. Without these water dispensers, participants would be forced to buy bottled water widely available from the vending machines which are PERMENANTLY placed in the West Kowloon Zone. In other words, the presence of our water dispensers there has successfully averted the consumption of 3000 plus bottled water, and eliminated the 3000 plus plastic bottles that would inevitably end up in the landfill or into the ocean. At the same time, we encouraged participants drinking from our water dispensers to download our Water for Free mobile phone app, which can help them locate nearby water fountains and dispensers around Hong Kong and make a conscientious effort to abandon the bad habit of buying bottled water.

According to the 2014 Waste Statistics issued by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Hong Kong produces 132 tons of PET plastic waste daily. Each bottle weighs about 25 grams. This means that we throw away over 5 million PET bottles per day. Instead of responsibly addressing the waste issue caused by their products, beverage companies spend huge amounts on advertising designed to convince us to buy ever more of their products. The fact that their products are filling up our landfills and killing wildlife – birds, fish and sea turtles eat broken pieces of plastic mistaking it for food – is not their problem. It is ours. So we are asking for your help to do your part for the environment, please use a reusable beverage bottles.

To download the app, please click here

Translated and edited by Iris Leung