Scrambling down the muddy riverbank, Natalie Fee frowns as she looks out across the River Avon. Three weeks earlier she had spent a day with other volunteers collecting hundreds of plastic bottles that were littering the river as it made its way to the sea. Now a new tide of plastic has returned.
“In a sense it is dispiriting,” says Fee as she starts to gather up the bottles strewn along the bank. “In another way, it just highlights how important it is we keep pushing ahead with the work we are doing.”
Fee, 38, is the driving force behind a campaign which aims to cut the millions of plastic bottles that end up in the world’s oceans each year. The Refill campaign persuades businesses to sign up to a scheme allowing people to refill their water bottles on their premises rather than throw them away.
Fee launched the project in 2015 and a couple of months later 200 businesses in Bristol had signed up. Now towns and cities across the UK and Europe are joining.
“All we are doing is linking people who want water with businesses and organisations who have taps and are happy for them to be used, but it has really taken off,” Fee said.