Eco-Living Magazine

Refill Your Water Bottle with TapIt

Posted on the 27 June 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Even though an end to disposable water bottles is the low-hanging fruit of environmentalism, many of the most conscientious people I know regularly go through cases of the stuff. I know an 84-year-old lady whose tap water comes directly out of a spring-fed lake she can see out her kitchen window in rural Maine .

She drinks exclusively Poland Spring-packaged water, and whatever her good intentions: health, taste, local economy, the contrast is enough to drive a sane person crazy. 

I’m in the middle of reading Bottlemania: How water went on sale and why we bought it, a so-far-excellent explanation of how the bottled water world works (more to come when I’ve finished). In it, author Elizabeth Royle writes:

In Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, Benjamin Barber argues that consumer culture has turned adult citizens into children by catering to our narcissistic desires and conditioning us to passionately embrace certain brands and products as necessary parts of our lifestyles.

Is it narcissism that pulls people into stores the second they feel thirsty? Or is it a need for emotional succor? City dwellers walk down the street swigging; they stand in conversation and mark time with discreet sips…. Surely, these people have access to water at the end of their journey and are in no danger of desiccating on the spot. No, this is water bottle as security blanket.


OK, so we’re all spoiled children, sucking on the watery teat of consumerism, but the fact is that sometimes, in this modern world, the water at the end of the journey is a bit far off, and one needs a drink. Petulant or not, I get headaches if I get dehydrated, and I get cranky.

Enter TapIt. TapIt is an app for Android or iPhone that shows where you can fill reusable water bottles in NYC, DC, SLC, San Francisco, and Portland. I first encountered TapIt at the farmers’ market near the White House on a hot afternoon I’d spent traipsing around the Mall with my visiting mom. We had brought water bottles when we left the house, but by lunchtime they were empty, we were getting sunburnt, and it was a relief to get some cool water for the last mile walk back to the house.

To be honest, using the app makes me feel a little silly. Can’t you just walk into any restaurant and hand them a refillable water bottle? Well, yes and no, or it depends on your social gracefulness and tolerance for being looked at by underpaid sandwich slingers like you just grew a third eyeball.

TapIt could be improved with wiki capabilities, so users could add water fountains and friendly stores to the map. For instance, LEED-certified Nationals Park isn’t on the list, but rumor has it there are water fountains somewhere in the park. (Nationals peeps, if you’re reading this: FREE WATER for people with water bottles. Come on! Sitting in the sun for three and a half hours of mid-afternoon, D.C. heat is an outside-the-house occasion where I’m going to need some H20, and I have no idea where the Nats’ water fountains are.) At the moment, only store owners can become TapIt “partners” — an unnecessary hurdle for mapping water sources.

Still, TapIt is a good start. If you don’t feel like downloading yet another app, look for TapIt decals on participating retailers, print the map from the website, or just quiet your inner child’s whining and wait until you get home for that sip.

And ditch the one-use bottled water, OK? You’re driving me nuts.

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