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Reduce, re-use, fill up
One day back in early April, Daniel Cousins was having trouble finding a place to fill up his water bottle.
Then, on his way to an event, he noticed just how many bottles and cans were being unearthed by the melting snow.
It wasn’t the first time he had seen this. However, it irked him.
“If the bottles and cans are going to annoy me this much, I better do something about it,” he thought.
So, he went to the Dollar Store, bought a box of blue bags, armed himself with tongs and started cleaning up in his area.
After two or three bags it didn’t even look like he made a dent.
But it did look like the start of funding for a new project; one aimed at reducing the number of recyclables littering the streets by partnering with businesses who would agree to fill up reusable water bottles.
And so, the Fill Up Here campaign began with Cousins and other volunteers picking up more than 2,000 bottles and cans. The return on those helped fund the project.
Think of it like the pet-friendly signs in shop windows but, instead of pets, a Fill Up Here sticker means the business is water bottle friendly, said Cousins.
“I wanted it to be simple, that you kind of got the impression from seeing the sticker ‘I can fill up my water bottle here.’”
Any business with the sticker will fill up a bottle from their tap, free of charge.
Cousins had 300 stickers sustainably printed. His hope is to see all of them go up province-wide by the end of the month.
There are already 17 businesses in Charlottetown and another five in Kensington with the stickers. There has also been interest from outside the province, with businesses in Ontario and Halifax reaching out to participate.
Cousins wants to keep it grassroots and is working on a strategy to empower people elsewhere to operate their own campaigns, he said.
“I was just going to build a website for little ol’ P.E.I. and I think it’s going to have to be bigger, so I might have to hire a programmer.”
Part of Fill Up Here’s growth will be funded by companion stickers for water bottles reading “Fill ‘Er Up,” though there is no firm launch date yet.