The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

November 25, 2009

You’ve Got Your Reusable Bottle. Now What?

Filling up your bottle from the kitchen sink is easy. But how about when you’re out in the world and need a drink? With water fountains disappearing and restaurants reluctant to fill bottles without a purchase, it’s sometimes frustrating to find drinking water for free.

Enter a couple of web sites that can help.

TapItTapIt was begun in New York City and is spreading across the U.S., now with locations in the Bay Area. Partner eating establishments commit to providing water to us in our reusable bottles at no charge.

If you have an iPhone, you can download the TapIt app. If you have a SmartPhone, you can simply browse to and you’ll be directed right to the search page. I tried it on my Moto Q9c. It works.

If you don’t have one of these fancy Internet-capable phones, check the web site before leaving the house to find out where the TapIt partners are in your destination. And don’t forget your bottle.

While there are now 75 participating restaurants in San Francisco, only a few have joined on out here in the East Bay at this point, and only 2 in Oakland: Jumpin’ Java Coffee House and Nomad Cafe, both on Shattuck Ave. But TapIt is hoping to add many more partners and provides a sign-up page for interested businesses.

Beyond the BottleSo what about those disappearing water fountains? There are still some around, and even some that still work! Let’s use them and let each other know where they are. That is the theory behind the Beyond the Bottle web site, which relies on users to add drinking fountains in their communities to the database. Right now, there are only 31 locations listed on the site. That’s why Beyond the Bottle needs all of us to add new sources of free fountain water as we find them.

Of course, there’s also the option of simply going into any restaurant and asking for water. The worst that can happen is that they can refuse. But the more of us that carry our own bottles and ask for water, the more this service (hopefully) will become the norm.

What has been your experience finding free water while out in the world?

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Vips U
5 years ago

Rome’s got free drinking water fountains. This blog has a good description:

I used a different smartphone app to the one mentioned to find them while we were visiting though.

Erin Jones
5 years ago

I would just go into a bar and ask. As long as you’re polite they’re fine. It works especially well if you have eaten/drank there before. You could also explain that you’re trying to reduce trash – that usually enamours people to your cause.

I once asked for a drink with the straw at a restaurant I go to all the time. The waiter told me “You know you can just take it out” and that laughed at the silly little sixteen year old trying to save turtles. It came with a straw. I was so annoyed as we had had a conversation about it surely he remembered! I then ordered another and asked a waiter for it sans straw and it was successful that time.

If worse comes to worse I say I am severely allergic to petroleum and so plastic. Works like a charm. Works especially well if you are wearing gloves to “avoid touching the lethal substance” :)

Emon dja
13 years ago

The worst that can happen is that they can refuse. But the more of us that carry our own bottles and ask for water, the more this service (hopefully) will become the norm.inkjet cartridges

13 years ago

I’m with Rob. i go into the bathroom and use the tap there. Never a complaint. I never even thought about going into a restaurant and asking them.

Aussie Elv
13 years ago

Thanks for sharing these resources. :) The one thing I noticed was that is only in the USA and Beyond the Bottle is only for the USA and Canada. I contacted to see if they’re planning on expanding (I’m in Australia), but can’t find contact details for Beyond the Bottle. It’d be great to go global on this one.

13 years ago

Love the Tap It idea, hope it catches on. I’ve had good responses from places willing to let me fill my bottle – except one that was worried about the liability if there was something already in my bottle. (It took a little discussion to figure out what their concern was) It opened an opportunity for some eco education when they pleasantly offered to give me a free paper cup of water instead!

Beth Terry
13 years ago

@Kirsten, I believe there are fewer water fountains because of the proliferation of bottled water and the germ phobia that the bottled water companies are promoting. I’ve had more than one person ask me if water fountains are safe to drink from. These are all people much younger than me who don’t remember a time before bottled water when we all drank from water fountains.

I’ve also found that even in places that do have water fountains, often they don’t work properly.

Julia (Color Me Green)
13 years ago

that tap it program sounds great! my boyfriend loves his iphone and its apps, so hopefully this will help him bring his reusable bottle and use that more instead of buying plastic water bottles.

13 years ago

I have not had a problem. I know that there are these things called rest rooms that have sinks in them- I just go in and fill up muggsly! Have a problem with rest room water? well it id the same water from the same lines that go to the kitchen

13 years ago

I have yet to be turned down if I go into a convenience store/gas station. If you dont want to use their soda fountain system for water there is almost always a sink near the hot food area (like the hot dog rollers and microwave).

13 years ago

I’ve found most restaurants accommodating about filling my water bottle. When I first switched over to stainless steel, I had to start asking them to fill it *with water* since a lot of places assumed it was for coffee.

13 years ago

Thanks for sharing this– TapIt is a great idea. Why are there fewer water fountains now?