Too many people are failing to change their ways to minimise damage to the environment caused by single-use plastic bottles.
That is the finding in a survey by Keep Britain Tidy and Brita, which found that more than a fifth of people do not use a reusable water bottle, or have lost one and not bothered to replace it.
Only 36% regularly carry a reusable water bottle with them, and fewer than a third (31%) feel guilty about buying throwaway bottled water.
Of the 2,138 people questioned by YouGov, more than half (55%) said they owned a reusable water bottle, 17% said they have one but do not regularly use it, while 2% have never used the one they own.
Meanwhile, 3% have lost their reusable bottle and not bothered to replace it.
Alison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, told Sky News: “We have been sleepwalking through convenience into a culture where we want what we want when we want it, and not really thinking about the impact and the consequences, and that has to stop.
“I think our children will look back at this moment in horror and look back on the way that we were behaving.
“We have to start living sustainably and think about reintroducing water fountains.”
Borough Market is one part of London that has done this – banning water bottles and installing water fountains.
Development manager David Matchett told Sky News: “I think we have to think of the next generation and the world that they’re living in and how we can create a much better world for them, so that they’re not going to be looking back on the generation before and saying: ‘They didn’t care about us’.”
A lack of water options at transport hubs is seen as part of the problem, with almost two thirds of travellers (63%) saying they buy bottled water when going long distances, while 27% are likely to purchase bottled water as part of lunchtime meal deals.
Almost seven in 10 admit they feel uncomfortable asking for a free glass of water, or a top up of a container, without buying something else in cafes, shops or other businesses.
And 27% feel awkward getting their bottle refilled even when they do purchase something, the survey found.
The majority of people also think there should be greater availability of free tap water across the UK.
Sarah Taylor, managing director of Brita UK, said that while many people were committed to tackling plastic pollution, old habits were ingrained and the “hassle factor” often outweighed environmental concerns.
“What’s clear is that there is much more we can all do to help people swap for good to things like refillable bottles and reduce their single-use plastic footprint, whether that is reassuring them about the safety of water fountains or making it as easy as possible to fill up and stay hydrated on the go.”
(c) Sky News 2018: People ‘sleepwalking’ over single-use plastic bottles