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Reuse and refill to save money.

Though the summer hasn’t really got going yet this year, we’re promised a heatwave this weekend. And that means it’s more important than normal to keep hydrated when out and about. Yes a cold coke can be good, and apparently, a hot drink will help lower your body temperature. But personally I’ll always prefer to have a nice cold water.

But buying bottled water isn’t always cheap. Yes, you can pick up an own-brand 500ml bottle from supermarkets for around 50p, but you’ll be paying £1, if not more, at coffee shops and corner shops. Buying just two bottles a day during a working week could easily cost £10.

And it’s not good for the environment either. The organisation Refill estimates that UK households buy 480 plastic bottles a year, and only half get recycled. So it’s better for both your wallet and your conscious is to reuse either a “single-use” bottle, or buy a tougher one designed to be used again and again.

But if you’re not at home or work with access to a tap, where do you top up your bottle? Well, I’ve got some info to help you find out where you can hand over your bottle and get it refilled up for nothing.

Look for the Refill symbol

In recent years I’ve spotted more and more of the Refill logo in the windows and doors of cafes, pubs and even places like gyms. 

This logo means you’ll be able to get a refill of your water bottle for absolutely nothing. You can also plan in advance by downloading the Refill app which has a searchable map.

There are apparently over 20,000 businesses operating as “Refill Stations” in the UK, including brands such as Costa, Starbucks and Greggs.

Look for this Refill logo to get free water

Restaurants and bars – your rights

Of course, not everywhere will have the logo – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get free water. It’s always worth asking places if they’ll top up your bottle, though it’s always better to do this if you’ve been a customer. 

Though spending money doesn’t mean you are entitled to free water. Restaurants and cafes don’t even have to give you free water with your meal unless they are licensed premises.

If they do serve booze then they must have it available, but they can charge for service if they wish. And it doesn’t mean it’ll be very good tap water. I’ve eaten in places where the water is not great at all, and not even that cold. Still, it can help keep costs down.

Filling up at airports

Though you can’t take liquids over 100ml with you then you go airside, you can bring empty bottles. You should then be able to fill up your water bottles once you’re through security.

Not all airports have fountains, and they’re not always easy to find, but I’ve usually managed to bring a bottle or two through to ensure I can stay hydrated on long-haul flights, and avoid the sky-high (ahem) charges you get on budget airlines.

Money Saving Expert has a useful list of airports which have fountains and where to find them.

For more on this you can also watch this video from last year (when the summer was fantastic)


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