How to combat single-use plastics? Here's how, the Italian way...
This is an unusual blog post. We always think of Italy as crystalline Mediterranean waters, bowls of luscious food, fast cars and fashion designers, but there's much more to this country when you scratch the surface. For example, Italy consistently pushes for an improved ecological culture, recycling 52.6% of its waste and leading in sustainable projects, like this one.
La casa dell'acqua translates as 'the water house'. In Italian, we call it the casetta dell'acqua - the little water house (it's not that big).
Italians love their mineral water, in fact Italy has the second highest consumption of bottled water in the world, after Mexico, at an average of 220litres per capita.
I remember the effort of lugging home heavy plastic bottles of water after supermarket shops back in the day, but that seems like a lifetime ago now. Since then a global consciousness of the impact of single-use plastics is something we all live live with every day.
How to combat single-use plastic.
One way is refillable glass bottles and 'little houses' with taps of flowing, cold, filtered water. Intelligente, wouldn't you say?
The summer of 2015 was the hottest Italy had experienced in 135 years, that was year Milan hosted EXPO. To ensure a high level of hydration, 30 casette dell'acqua were dotted about the sprawling show grounds, all you needed was your water bottle. The 30 casette managed to dispense 3 million litres of water that summer, saving over 1 million kg of single-use plastics. And if I remember, the water was also free, not that cost is an issue at the casa dell'acqua - sparkling water costs 6c/litre for gassata (sparkling) and 4c/litre for naturale (still).
How does it work?
It all works with a top-up card supplied by the local newsagents. You then take your bottles to the closest casetta, insert your card and simply press the sparkling or still water button to fill up.
Water from the mains is filtered and kept refrigerated with mineral and chemical information on display and there's a limit of 20 litres per person at a time. Don't expect soda levels of bubbles, this is leggermente frizzante - lightly fizzy.
It's wonderfully satisfying to see your bottles filling and feel your weight on the environment lessening even by the smallest of gestures. A win-win situation, this is something classically efficient, noteworthy and refreshingly delicious at the same time - how typically Italian.