Living in Northwest Montana is living among waterways, with lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers providing one of the essential ingredients for life.
And now, a new project wants to make Flathead Valley residents and visitors aware of all the places around this beautiful place to refill a water bottle and avoid having to buy plastic bottled water.
“We have the infrastructure already, almost everybody has their own reusable water bottle and there are tons of places you can fill it up on your way,” said Kelly Ordway, the organizer behind Refill, Not Landfill.
The idea is simple. If people know there are places to get clean water, they can get a reusable bottle and work toward the first two Rs of the conservation motto: Reduce, reuse, recycle.
“Recycling can take a lot of resources just to be able to do,” Ordway said. “Reuse and reduce comes before recycling.”
The idea to build this list came from a friend who had visited Cambodia, where the Refill Cambodia program is in full swing. That program started because 4.8 million tourists drinking two liters of water a day bought more than 10 million all-plastic disposable water bottles in one month.
Without the recycling infrastructure in place to handle that volume, the Refill Not Landfill campaign started to educate tourists about reusable water bottles, and listed all the places they could fill up on the bottle itself.
Now, the campaign has grown to include all of South-East Asia.
Ordway said the idea made so much sense to her that she started thinking about how to do it in Whitefish. She realized she couldn’t think of much of a list of refill stations offhand.
“It took me walking around with new eyes, even though I’ve lived here for 22 years,” she said.
With the help of Climate Smart Glacier Country, Ordway built a list of Whitefish businesses, restaurants, and government entities that welcome anyone seeking a water-bottle refill.
“This has already been cleared with owners and managers,” Ordway said.
Most of the locations are places to refill water bottles up to about 32 oz. per person, Ordwaysaid, not to refill large amounts of water for home usage. There are places to buy water by the gallon included on the list.
Glacier National Park has a list of places to fill up water bottles as well, and the students at Whitefish High School are working on building a GIS map to show all the refill locations throughout the valley and park.
Ordway said anyone with questions is welcome to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved.
“It’s a really easy way for people to involve themselves,” she said. “We can reduce demand for plastic bottles themselves.”
Water Refill Locations
Bonsai Brewing Project
Chill Clothing, Co.
Whitefish City Hall
Great Northern Cycle & Ski
Grouse Mountain City Park Rest Area
Montana Coffee Traders locations
Nelson’s Ace Hardware
Sportsman & Ski Haus
Stumptown Art Studio
Third Street Market
Whitefish Dog Park
Stumptown Ice Den
Whitefish Amtrak Station
Whitefish Chamber of Commerce
Whitefish Community Library