Zero Waste Humboldt: Refill Not Landfill Project Expands

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With the cooperation of six local governments and three schools; the support of Coast Central Credit Union, Strong Foundation, and Mad River Rotary Club; and a start up grant from the Footprint Foundation, Zero Waste Humboldt (ZWH) has
gradually expanded its Refill Not Landfill project to reduce the number of single use plastic water bottles in the Humboldt waste stream.

Cameron Mull, Director of Parks & Recreation, City of Fortuna. Photo courtesy of Zero Waste Humboldt.
Cameron Mull, Director of Parks & Recreation, City of Fortuna. Photo courtesy of Zero Waste Humboldt.

ZWH designed the project with an emphasis on installation of conveniently located water bottle refill stations, incorporating three behavior change tools. Behavior change research indicates that improving convenience and providing the ability to observe others engaging in a new habit increases the public’s adoption rate of a new behavior. The significant cost savings from replacing single use plastic water
bottles with reusable/refillable water bottles is also a strong boost to this new habit.

ZWH piloted the project awarding water bottle refill stations in three City of Eureka Parks and Recreation buildings in 2016.  Since then, partnerships with additional municipal and school buildings have gradually joined the project.

Fortuna’s Parks and Recreation Department is a good example. It was awarded a water bottle refill station and installed it in Rohner Park in August 2018. The counter on their water refill station already indicates over 3000 uses. After the installation of all twelve
stations, ZWH will begin public education to encourage use of reusable water bottles and monitoring when and how much the stations are used. Zero Waste Humboldt has compiled research on a large variety of water bottle refill station models, including the inexpensive adapters for existing drinking fountains.

Single use plastic water bottles are an unnecessary scourge on the earth. Americans alone throw away over 38 billion plastic water bottles each year. More than 70 percent of these will likely end up in landfills or an ocean. Furthermore, it takes 1.5. million barrels of oil to make those single use plastic bottles. (For additional information, visit

Some major companies (Dasani, for example) have been discovered bottling tap water and then selling that water at a 1000 percent price markup (considering that tap water is nearly free). See the documentary film “Tapped” for more information.

To learn more and to join the Refill Not Landfill Project, email