Tips to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles at Clean Regattas

By Jennifer Brett

Is your event struggling with eliminating single-use plastic water bottles? This best practice can definitely be a challenge! To help with ideas for how this can be achieved, we are showcasing some of the ways that other Clean Regattas have accomplished ditching single-use plastic water bottles.

Water Monster

This massive water dispenser is made for events. It can hold up to 125 gallons and features 6 outlets. It also breaks down for storage and travel. To defray the cost of purchasing the Water Monster for his club in Marblehead, Mass., Sailors for the Sea Skipper Rob Howie collaborated with other area yacht clubs and the unit has been perfect for shared use among all the clubs’ events.

Dockside Filtration

While this might not be convenient for spectators or other guests at your event with their bottle fills, having a filter setup right on the dock is a great way for the sailors to quickly fill up before heading out. A system like this is simple to set up, and the parts can usually be found at a typical hardware store.

Permanent Bottle Filler

These are commonly spotted at airports and schools and do a great job of filling bottles quickly with cold, typically filtered, water. This is a good option if there is a high-traffic area at your club that is convenient for the sailors. While purchase and installation could be a bit spendy, once installed at your club, you can enjoy easy bottle fills year-round.

Standard Water Coolers

Does your facility have a water cooler or two inside the office that can be pressed into service for a regatta? With a few extra 5-gallon jugs at the ready, this might be great solution for a small event.

Dolphin Pumps

No need to be fancy, sometimes a pump on top of a standard five-gallon jug will do the trick. Dolphin pumps (or something similar) are a great solution for refills aboard coach or committee boats.

Water Stations

Large events need high-capacity water availability. Fortunately, there are options! Typically, they require a connection to a municipal water supply and offer internal filtration. These units are usually rented but could be purchased if your budget and storage allow. Since these units are large and offer great visibility, many events have had luck with finding a sponsor to cover all or some of the cost. A web search for "event water refill station" will likely lead you in the right direction.

Jugs, Igloos

Hosting a small event or a junior regatta? Consider stashing jugs in a cooler and/or have several Igloo water dispensers available. Don’t forget, you can easily swap an Igloo or two for Gatorade or lemonade.

Pro Tips

Plan ahead for keeping the water cold, particularly if temperatures during the event are high – which could require a LOT of ice. At the Youth World Sailing event in (hot) Corpus Christi, Texas, all race committee boats and support boats were equipped with five-gallon water jugs with dolphin pumps which sat in trash cans surrounded by ice. A total of 2,177 liters of ice was used over the weeklong event!

Communication is key. To be successful at eliminating single-use plastic water bottles from your event, let all competitors, volunteers, guests, and race committee members know ahead of time that they must bring their own bottles. If the event communications are only going to, say the boat owner or skipper, make sure that they spread the message to the rest of the crew.

Download our Clean Regattas Toolkit today for more tips on all the best practices!