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Tintern Abbey’s Visitor Centre Gains a New Bottle Filling Station

Monday, 12 August 2019 09:07:23 Europe/London

If you’ve ever happened to be driving the A466 along the River Wye and the English-Welsh border, there’s every chance that your attention will have been arrested by the magnificent structure of Tintern Abbey. Like a toy abandoned by giants, the remains of the medieval construction seem to have just been dropped into the landscape. And even in its state of ancient decay, it is utterly compelling and breath-taking.  How lucky did the MIW team feel to be working there recently, then?

As part of the Welsh Assembly’s bid to turn Wales into the World’s first refill nation, Cadw has installed drinking fountains and bottle fillers at its most popular tourist attractions. The department is responsible for the care and upkeep of some of the country’s most important and beautiful historic buildings. The sites, which include Tintern Abbey, attract many thousands of visitors every year. Consequently, finding bottle fillers capable of dealing with such high potential usage while being exposed to the elements, and a company that could be relied upon to service the units before they needed it rather than waiting for problems to occur, was of paramount importance. Naturally, Cadw called upon MIW! New green outdoor bottle refill station at Tintern Abbey

The Tintern Abbey Bottle Filling Station

Situated in the visitor centre, a Halsey Taylor 4405BF - Endura II Tubular Outdoor Bottle Filling Station was selected as the best kind of bottle filler/drinking fountain combo for the visitors of Tintern Abbey. WRAS-approved, the unit has been tested in every conceivable way to ensure both quality and safety. The push-button mechanism is both hygienic and easy to use, delivering a laminar flow of water to ensure that there’s no splashback to dampen users and minimal waste. An in-line filter and silver-ion antimicrobial coating also works to enhance the unit’s hygiene. Vandal-proof and weather resistant, the Halsey Taylor 4405BF may not quite equal Tintern Abbey’s 800 years, but it’s certainly there for the long-haul.

Why Does Tintern Abbey Need a Bottle Filling Station?

Aside from the fact that providing free drinking water is a great customer service, there’s a very serious side to Cadw’s move towards bottle fillers. Waste plastic has become an epidemic blighting the Earth. It’s not always easily recycled. It’s failing to degrade in landfill. And worst of all, it’s finding its way into our waterways and oceans, destroying the ecosystem. How terrible would it be if we were to lose species simply because we couldn’t be bothered to take steps to reduce the amount of plastic we consume? So, that’s what Cadw is doing.

In installing drinking fountains and bottle filling stations at its most popular tourist destinations, Cadw is providing an alternative to single-use plastic bottled water. Rather than buying and discarding multiple drinks bottles, visitors can now refill at will. As more and more responsible organisations take similar steps, a network of drinking fountains and bottle fillers is spreading across the UK. With any luck, it won’t be long before shop bought bottled water is as much a thing of history as Tintern Abbey. But if we start the clean-up process now, future generations hopefully won’t have such an enormous reminder of single-use plastic.

Tintern was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. Building began in 1131. It’s fair to say that the Abbey has borne witness to a huge amount of change. Let’s hope that it’s now witnessing another change for the good.

A Jewel in the Crown Estate?

Monday, 29 July 2019 10:05:29 Europe/London

MIW install a #OneLess bottle filler on South St Alban’s Street, St James.

We don’t want to get ideas above our station, but we’ve just carried out an installation on Crown Estate land, doncha know.

Working with #OneLess and the London Drinking Fountain Fund has taken us to such a huge variety of locations. From the heart of the Natural History Museum to Brixton. And now, here we are, working on Crown land… Which is, of course, just like any other land in the centre of London. Expensive, noisy and very, very busy. Still, it’s nice to feel like we’re doing something just a little bit posh from time to time!

The new drinking fountain and sports bottle filling station has been placed on St Alban’s Street because it’s really flipping busy. With as many – if not more – tourists as workers visiting the area on a daily basis, St James is a hive of human activity. And that means that there’s plenty of opportunity to make a difference by cutting back on waste plastic in the area.

Everyone needs to drink water, but tourists are particularly thirsty customers when it comes to the consumption of bottled water. And you can’t blame them; when you’re away from home you can’t be expected to take everything with you. But that does mean that in areas like St James, with its striking Palace and beautiful parkland, waste plastic can be a serious problem. The new bottle filler should help to tackle that. Example of a new outdoor bottle refill station that was installed South St Alban’s Street

Weather-proof and vandal-resistant, the Halsey Taylor 4405BF Endura II Tubular outdoor bottle filler is a perfect fit for its regal surroundings. It’s high performing, easy to use and accessible to all. It’s also pre-treated with anti-microbial protection, to ensure that users have a safe and healthy drinking experience.

The hope, of course, is that people will use the bottle filler to top up any bottles they might be carrying, rather than picking up new plastic. This way, we can all work together to help reduce the vast amounts of plastic – 8 million tonnes annually – that enter our waterways and wreak havoc on our environment. It’s currently predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish, if we don’t do something to stop the present trend. In donating this bottle filler – and 19 others – to the London Drinking Fountain Fund, all of us at MIW Water Cooler Experts are trying to do our bit. It’s easier for you to do yours – just use the fountains and bottle fillers when you see them.

Crown land, parkland, high street or shopping centre; wherever you are, you have a chance to make a difference. By ditching the single-use plastic and opting to carry your own drinks bottle when you’re out and about, topping up as you go, could have an enormous impact on the environment. And, if you think about it, your bank balance.

So, go on, give it a slurp. Everyone’s a winner if we can put an end to waste plastic.

If you want to appreciate the glory of our planet, you don’t need to travel far. Just visit a garden. The Victorians knew that. That’s why they created the Horniman Museum and Gardens. It’s a place formed to celebrate the Earth and everything on it. And throughout the years the 16-acre site in South London’s Forest Hill has played home to diverse internationally important collections, from musical instruments to anthropology. But it’s crowning glory has always been its gardens – and the animals who live in them. And this has led to the foundation behind the institution becoming increasingly involved in conservation.Woman refilling at an outdoor bottle refill station in Horniman Museum and Gardens.

It’s fitting, then, that the Horniman Museum & Gardens has been chosen as one of the sites to benefit from the #OneLess campaign’s London Drinking Fountain Fund. With work already underway, researching the conservation of coral and barrel jellyfish, the team at the Horniman were well aware of the problems of plastic waste and the impact it is having on our oceans. Consequently, the organisation was already making inroads into reducing plastic waste on its grounds by offering a free water refill service in its café. But now, visitors will be able to help themselves at the swanky new MIW-donated-and-installed Halsey Taylor outdoor bottle filling station and drinking fountain.

Dr Emma-Louise Nicholls, chair of the Horniman’s staff-run Sustainability Group which oversees the Horniman’s programme of continuous environmental improvement, says: ‘We’re constantly looking for ways to make a visit to the Horniman ‘greener’, so we’re delighted to have been chosen as one of the sites for the new refill points. We’ve been making good progress in reducing single-use plastics on site… this new refill point is an important and positive step, encouraging our visitors to use more refillable water bottles, and help the Horniman protect our environment.”

#OneLess branded bottle filler.And our environment really does need protecting. Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. And if plastic pollution goes unchecked, it is estimated that there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the ocean by 2025. By 2050, plastic in the ocean could outweigh fish. That’s a scary, scary thought, especially when there are steps that we can all take to make sure that it does not happen.

The #OneLess campaign, of which MIW is a part, was formed by ZSL London Zoo to take positive steps to fight against that tide of waste plastic. Working in collaboration with the London Mayor’s Office, the London Drinking Fountain Fund is one small part of the solution. MIW donated 20 outdoor bottle filling stations to the campaign and our team have been working hard installing them at deserving sites around the capital. While all sites have been carefully chosen, the Horniman Museum and Gardens feels particularly apposite. It strikes a chord going back through the years to the founder’s vision of sharing and conserving. And it’s been a great project for us to work on. Now, we just hope that the bottle filler makes as much of a positive contribution to the community as its host has done through the last 130 years! 

Rewriting the Book – The Library of Birmingham Joins the Refill Movement

Despite having only been completed in 2013, the Library of Birmingham (LoB) has become one of the city’s iconic structures. A wedding cake rendered from glass and gold, it attracts almost as many visitors for its external splendour as its internal value. It is multi-layered, hosting millions of books and other resources within, while a glorious roof garden crowns its top. Awarded BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent certification for its design objectives, it is also known for its green credentials. But until this spring it was missing one vital asset: a bottle filling station. And who else would the managers call to remedy this situation, but MIW?

The LoB Bottle Filler

The library’s Facilities and Systems Manager, Lee Mills, had received a number of requests from thirsty students. Reluctant to both spend unnecessary money and contribute to the global plastic waste problem, the students were looking for access to free drinking water. With drinking water proven to enhance concentration, which makes studying easier, they had good reason for the request. Having become aware of MIW Water Cooler Experts from our work at Canary Wharf, Mr Mills gave us a call. And it didn’t take us long to get to work.

The library required a water bottle filling station that was capable of dealing with a high volume of users without compromising on quality. It needed to be easy to use and mess-free. After all, you don’t want to wreck RIBA Stirling Prize short-listed architecture with overflowing waste collectors and splashing faucets. The MIW Branded Eco-Dispenser was the obvious option. Delivering chilled water at speed, the unit is capable of filling up to 680 regular 500ml sports bottles per hour. But that’s just one of the reasons why it is the UK’s best-selling indoor WRAS-approved bottle refill station. It is low maintenance, hygienic and provides hands-free access for users with disabilities. The water is filtered for purity and chilled for flavour, while a ‘turbo’ drain deals with any waste water cleanly. However, it also had one more selling point for the Library of Birmingham: it could be branded.

The LoB’s new bottle filler, which is situated on the mid ground floor, has been finished according to the library’s bespoke design. The filigree which graces much of the exterior of the building has been used to create an attractive background, adorned by the words Rewriting the Book – Refill today, help save plastic from entering our seas and oceans. And with the sheer number of visitors the library receives, that help really could be significant.

About the Library of Birmingham

More than 35,000 people visit the library every week. It attracted 1.5 million visitors in the first six months after it opened alone. It is home to both nationally and internationally significant collections, including one of the two most important Shakespeare collections in the world.

With that in mind, we don’t want to overstate MIW’s contribution. But taking steps to reduce waste plastic IS important. And it has the potential to make a massive impact on the state of our world, both now and in the future. Because of that, we’re really proud to be playing our part. Especially in such extraordinary locations as the LoB.

You can find the Library of Birmingham’s new bottle filling station on the mid ground floor. It is accessible 9am-9pm Mon-Fri and 11am-5pm Sat.

Scotland Continues to Top Up from the Tap

Saturday, 30 March 2019 07:30:00 Europe/London

Scotland Continues to Top Up from the Tap

Scotland is officially one of the wettest places in Europe. Glasgow is fourth on the European city rainfall list. So, when you think of selling water to Scotland, you’d be forgiven for making analogies relating to Eskimos and ice. You might be surprised to learn then, that Scottish Water has recently invested in doing just that! Only, they’re not selling water as such, more the concept and the culture of it…

Working with MIW Water Cooler Experts, Scottish Water has started the installation of 35 new water refill stations across Scotland. In providing free drinking water in selected high-footfall locations across the country, the organisation is promoting a refill culture that everyone can get behind.

Top Up from the Tap in Scotland

From the end of the West Highland Way in Fort William, to the front of Edinburgh’s Parliament Building, where the first installation took place in 2018, Halsey Taylor water refill stations have been appearing. They are weather-proof, vandal-resistant and easy to use. And they’ve been designed for low-maintenance longevity, with in-built strainers for water quality and silver-ion antimicrobial coating for hygiene. Each one has also been customised to display Scottish Water’s messaging, and to track the unit’s usage. The idea is that if enough people use them, reducing the number of single-use 500ml water bottles purchased and discarded in the areas around these refill points, more businesses and organisations will be encouraged to get on board. And the more free drinking water points become available, the more people will use them.

But why should this matter?

Every Little Thing Makes a Small Difference

This is the strapline of Scottish Water’s environmental policy. And it’s a good one, because everyone really can make a difference when it comes to the environment. Particularly the environmental disaster that is waste plastic. And all of these little differences can meld together to create an enormous impact.

Each Scottish household generates more than a tonne of waste every year. Much of it isn’t recycled – even though it could be. If we all start using refillable drinks bottles and topping up from the tap rather than purchasing plastic bottles on the go, it could make a world of difference. Not just in cutting the amount of waste that goes into the environment – which is the key focus just now, and rightly so. But also, in cutting the emissions that are released in plastic’s production. Oh, not to mention cutting the amount of cash coming out of each person’s pocket. It’s a win-win-win situation.

So far, MIW has worked on 10 installations for Scottish Water. We’ve worked closely with our global partner Elkay, who manufacture the Halsey Taylor bottle fillers, ensuring that the project is delivered on budget and on time. And it’s been great to see the enthusiasm with which each bottle filling station has been welcomed by the locals. Now, we can’t wait to get started on the remaining 25 locations that will take us to the highlands and islands, as well as the beautiful mainland. So, get ready to drink your fill Scotland; MIW and Scottish Water are on the way!

The Village Pump Returns to Freshford

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 09:29:38 Europe/London

The Village Pump Returns to Freshford

For most of us these days, living without hot and cold running water in our homes is unimaginable. And yet not so long ago – within the last hundred years, in fact – many British homes relied on hand-pumped water. Lavatories were external. Hot water was heated manually. And, for some, cold water was fetched in, in a bucket from the communal pump. Although a significant step up from the well, and delivering sanitary, piped water, it was still a far cry from the way that we live today. While absolutely no one can be nostalgic for those days, there is something slightly romantic about the idea of a village pump. It’s somewhere to meet and chat; a place to bring a community together. And it’s that sense of community that is being revived in a small Somerset village called Freshford.

The Freshford Village Pump

Now, the people of Freshford obviously haven’t all gone mad and decided to eschew their contemporary plumbing in favour of a vintage pump. Instead, they’ve taken the thoroughly modern step of installing a public drinking fountain and bottle refill station at the community café and shop. 

Opened by HRH Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester, the new bottle filler (AKA The Village Pump) was installed as means to help cut waste plastic. Both locally and globally. Inspired by Sir David Attenborough's call to action in the BBC's Blue Planet II, the community was looking for a way to do their bit. Funds were raised by villagers, and Wessex Water chipped in £500 as part of its celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of Watermark – a scheme devised to support community and environmental projects… MIW had the privilege of carrying out that installation. And this is exactly the kind of project that we love to work on.

Starting a Sea Change in Water Consumption

Bottle filler installations are always encouraging for us, because it feels like we’re making a difference; joining the fight to cut Halsey Taylor bottle refill station 4420 UK Supplierwaste plastic. But the most heartening thing about Freshford’s Village Pump is the way in which it has been received by children. Kids from local schools were in attendance at the opening. Despite the fact that it’s essentially a glorified green metal tube delivering water – something these kids have always been able to get whenever they’ve wanted it – they seemed very switched on to the idea behind the bottle filler. Many of them would have seen the terrifying degree of the waste plastic problem on television. Others simply want to do their best to protect the planet and the creatures we share it with. And if we can encourage this mindset, and get children to adopt greener habits – refilling rather than repurchasing – they will hopefully carry them with them into adulthood. And that’s where change really begins to happen.

The Freshford Village Pump – a Halsey Taylor 4420-BF1U - Endura II Tubular outdoor bottle refill station has been designed to stand the test of time too. It’s weather-proof, vandal-resistant, hygienic and easy to use. It also requires very little maintenance. It should grace the Galleries in Freshford for very many years to come. And all the while it will be contributing to a global sea change and helping to stem the tide of single-use plastic.

Feeling the Love for Free Drinking Water in Redbridge’s Valentines Park

MIW’s work with the #OneLess Campaign, the London Drinking Fountain Fund and the London Mayor has to be some of the most satisfying of my career – and I’m proud of many of MIW’s achievements. The aim has been to reduce single-use plastic waste throughout London, through the provision of freely accessible drinking water. MIW’s part was the donation, installation and maintenance of 20 drinking fountains-cum-bottle fillers. After much groundwork, during the course of the last few months things have really started to pick up pace, with a number of bottle fillers finding new homes around the city. And the most recently placed was in Redbridge’s Heart of Valentines Park.

Those of you familiar with the area will know that Valentine’s Park has been in possession of a very fine drinking fountain since 1898. There’s just one tiny snag: it doesn’t work. It’s beautiful, but far from functional. Earlier this year, Redbridge Council announced plans to restore the fountain, along with others in Ilford and Wanstead parks, but then the #OneLess Drinking Fountain Fund came along. Now, instead of using hard-pressed council funds to return drinking water to Redbridge, we’ve installed a brand new Halsey Taylor Elkay 4405BF bottle filler with inbuilt drinking fountain.

Weather-proof, vandal-proof, hygienic, and designed to be accessible to all prospective users – including those in wheelchairs – the fountain has the potential to make a real difference to park life. Not only will it provide clean, fresh water on tap to all who need it, but it should hopefully also reduce litter throughout the park. And this is significant to the #OneLess campaign because of the presence of Cran Book in the park. With more and more waste plastic finding its way into our waterways and destroying our marine life – and the other creatures that feed on them – anything that prevents waste plastic from potentially entering our environment has to be a good thing.

The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, recently explained why the borough wanted to become involved in the London Drinking Fountain Fund project: “As part of being a greener borough and a better place to live, we are committed to bringing water fountains and bottle refill points into operation across our borough. Providing simple ways of refilling and accessing free water not only cuts down on plastic bottle usage but helps people stay healthy and hydrated. We are delighted to be partnering with the Mayor of London and #Oneless London Drinking Fountain Fund on this new drinking water facility, which I hope will be a popular addition to Valentines Park.”

So many parks throughout the UK are in a similar situation to the Heart of Valentines in Redbridge. They all had drinking fountains – until they fell out of fashion, and we all fell in love with plastic. Imagine how much nicer the world could be if we could return to a time when seeing single-use plastic bottles was a novelty. Wouldn’t it be lovely to stroll in your local park and not see bottles littering the benches and floating in the ponds? It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get to that stage… And the starting place is for us all to just use #OneLess bottle every week, and see if we can build from there.

Mike Winter - Managing Director 

Simply the Best: Choosing the Best Water Bottle Refill Station for Your Business

Water bottle refill stations are fast becoming the must-have item for all eco-conscious businesses. They’re a great way to provide an additional service to your customers – and staff – while quietly showcasing the fact that your business is environmentally-aware. But, with so many makes and models now available, how do you know which is the best one for you?

Read More

Top of the Class – The Most Popular Bottle Filler for Schools

Monday, 12 November 2018 07:00:00 Europe/London

Top of the Class – The Most Popular Bottle Filler for Schools

We work with a lot of schools at MIW Water Cooler Expert. Over the years, we’ve installed thousands of drinking water solutions. And if there’s one thing that we’ve learnt, it’s that schools, colleges and universities have very specific needs. And while there’s still room for the traditional stop and slurp drinking fountains, they don’t cater for every demographic. Teenage girls, for example, aren’t overly keen on having to wipe their chins are every drink! And yet, while bottle fillers are growing in popularity, not everyone carries a bottle on them, or wants to add to the weight of the textbooks and tech dragging at their shoulders with a sloshing drinks bottle in their bag.

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