“Japan is the second-largest producer of PET bottles (bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate) in the world. Every year, over 22 billion are produced in Japan; enough to circulate the Earth 120 times. Whilst Japan’s recycling technology and infrastructure are advanced, approximately 2.6 billion bottles are incinerated, sent to landfill, or simply lost to waterways and the oceans annually.”
This is what brought Social Innovation Japan co-founder Robin Lewis to develop what he thinks is a solution for the inexcusable amount of plastic waste produced by Japan’s beloved vending machines: MyMizu.
When I first landed in Japan, I was shocked by the lack of water fountains. Though my university was thankfully equipped with them, outside in the wild they were a rare sight. I didn’t dare to try and refill in the bathroom of the Seven Eleven, and even if I had, my 750 ml bottle wouldn’t have fit under the faucet in the tiny sink.
MyMizu is a free app that travelers and city dwellers alike can use to find over 8,000 free refill stations throughout the country. As these stations often take the shape of restaurants and cafés, it’s a great way to discover new places, too. And if you find a nice spot that isn’t listed, let the world know! Users can upload refill spots as they find them for others to enjoy. This means that every day, more refill stations will be added.
If you don’t already have a reusable water bottle, you can find one at any miscellaneous store like LOFT and Tokyu Hands. The cost per use is considerably cheaper than the ¥110 you spend every time you buy a bottle through a vending machine and at a nearby convenience store.