New online interactive map makes it easy to fill your water bottle around town

Decrease your use of single-use plastic bottles by using BlueWptbo.ca to find out where you can get free refills

Maggie Lightfoot passes a bottle of tap water over the counter to GreenUP Water Programs Coordinator Dylan Radcliffe at Black Honey Coffee House on Hunter Street, Peterborough. Black Honey is one of many businesses that have signed up as part of BlueWPtbo.ca, an online app mapping businesses in the city where anyone can fill up their reusable water bottle for free. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)
Maggie Lightfoot passes a bottle of tap water over the counter to GreenUP Water Programs Coordinator Dylan Radcliffe at Black Honey Coffee House on Hunter Street, Peterborough. Black Honey is one of many businesses that have signed up as part of BlueWPtbo.ca, an online app mapping businesses in the city where anyone can fill up their reusable water bottle for free. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

Over the past several years, there has been a significant effort in Peterborough to discourage people from consuming bottled water. Single-use bottled beverages are one of the largest pollutants in our oceans and landfills. One of the challenges with going bottled water free has been creating spaces for people to refill their personal reusable water bottles.

Some people feel uncomfortable approaching business owners and shopkeepers for free water so BlueWptbo.ca, a partnership between GreenUP and Healthy Kids Community Challenge, is seeking to make it easier for you to find the closest tap to fill your water bottle.

By visiting bluewptbo.ca on your computer or smartphone you can use an interactive map to locate the closest place to fill your bottle. Many businesses around Peterborough and the surrounding county have already signed up at bluewpto.ca to provide water refills to their patrons and guests.

One of the primary concerns in our region is the amount of sugary beverages that our children are consuming, instead of reaching for naturally healthy tap water. Local surveys conducted by Peterborough Public Health suggest that as children get older they consume more sugar-sweetened beverages.

Many bottled beverages that are readily accessible from vending machines, convenience stores, and snack counters contain sugar, salts, and fats in extreme concentrations that have built a desire that makes children drawn to these beverages.

One bottle of an average cola can contain as much as 52 grams of sugar, which is slightly more than the World Health Organization’s recommendation for an adult male to consume in a single day, let alone for a child to consume in a single beverage. By creating opportunities for people to choose healthier beverages, it is possible to foster a healthier Peterborough for all of us.

The interactive Google map at BlueWPtbo.ca showing the locations in downtown Peterborough where you can fill up your reusable water bottle for free. The ever-expanding map also shows locations in Lindsay, Cobourg, and more.
The interactive Google map at BlueWPtbo.ca showing the locations in downtown Peterborough where you can fill up your reusable water bottle for free. The ever-expanding map also shows locations in Lindsay, Cobourg, and more.

Why not consume bottled water instead of sugary drinks? The plastic we use on a daily basis often makes its way to our oceans, carried there, piece by piece, in our rivers, lakes and streams.

Plastic bottles never fully degrade. As the sun and the waves degrade the integrity of the plastic, all that eventually remains are the tiny pieces that contain many of the harmful chemicals that persist from the manufacturing stage. Marine animals consume these small pieces of plastic, which are in turn consumed by the fish we eat on a daily basis; these chemicals make their way up the food chain, eventually to us.

According to the Ocean Conservatory, nearly every square mile of the earth’s ocean has 46,000 pieces of plastic in it. Unfortunately, tossing used plastic water bottles in the recycling bin isn’t the answer. Only about 20% of plastic bottles are recycled — the rest end up in landfills, or the ocean.

Another misconception is that bottled water is cleaner than tap water. Evidence points to the fact that most bottled water is less safe than tap water. The Natural Resources Defence Council in the US found that 22% of bottled water brands contain chemicals above state health limits. In a study of 10 major brands of bottled water, nearly 38 pollutants were identified including fertilizer residue, pain medication, and disinfection by-products.

To make matters worse, bottled water companies are not required to report their contaminant levels and, in a test of transparency, the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 20% of bottled water companies would not disclose where their water comes from.

A large portion of bottled water sold in North America is actually tap water that has been bottled and resold at over 1,000 times the price of regular tap water. Depending on the brand of bottled water, customers are being charged up to 2,000 times the price of tap water for no additional benefit, and in some cases for an inferior product.

Additionally, bottled water companies are not required to provide water quality reports to the public. On average it is estimated that Canadian bottling plants receive inspections once every three to five years. Meanwhile, if you are interested in knowing more about Peterborough’s tap water, all reports and tests are published and up to date on the Peterborough Utilities Group website at peterboroughutilities.ca/Water/Water_Quality.

Choosing tap water is clearly the superior healthy choice. Considering environmental pollution, heath implications, and traceability, tap water wins in every category. Next time you are packing up for a road trip, a picnic, or a bike ride around town, remember to pack a reusable water bottle because a superior, thirst quenching, and healthy beverage is available on demand around town — tap water!

Access the map of available taps at BlueWptbo.ca. The list is growing, so if you are a business owner who would like to be added to the map of locations that are helping to build a bottled water free future, please sign up at BlueWptbo.ca or contact GreenUP at 705-745-3238 ext. 217.

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GreenUP
For more than 20 years, GreenUP has been central and eastern Ontario's leading organization focused on issues of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship. GreenUP is a non-profit charity and an active community organization that offers dozens of programs and services to those living in the Peterborough & Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario. GreenUP's programs focus on facilitating positive action and provide the tools to make small changes in the home or cottage that can create a large and lasting impact on our environment. You can follow GreenUP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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