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#OneLess plastic bottle in the ocean: Starting the refill revolution
by #OneLess (hosted by the Zoological Society of London) (Partnership)
#OneLess is a rapidly growing movement of pioneering and progressive individuals, communities, businesses, NGOs and policymakers, collaboratively striving to reduce the amount of single-use plastic water bottles entering the ocean from the city of London.

By taking a systems-change approach, together we are championing London's refill culture by enabling innovative ways to quench the capital's thirst and stop our reliance on single-use plastic water bottles. Londoners currently drink more bottled water than anywhere else in the UK. The average Londoner buys 3.37 plastic water bottles every week that's 175 a year.

The #OneLess initiative is fostering a culture where using a refillable water bottle is the new social norm and we are working to ensure that the systems and infrastructure are in place across the city to support this behaviour.

#OneLess is working to ensure Londoners value and feel connected to the ocean. London is a coastal city, linked to the ocean via the tidal River Thames. Sadly, the river takes a relentless flow of plastic from the city to the ocean, and plastic water bottles are one of the most common items accounting for 10% of all litter items found in the river (plastic and non-plastic).

But its not too late to reverse this damaging current. A refill revolution is underway in London! With clean drinking water available out of the tap, Londoners are switching to refillable bottles to quench the capitals thirst and make throwaway, single-use plastic bottled water a thing of the past. Every time we refill, fewer single-use plastic water bottles pollute our streets, river and ocean.

All across London, people are joining the refill revolution, either by personally pledging to use a refillable water bottle instead of hundreds of wasteful single-use bottles, or by working to create a refill culture in their workplaces and communities.
And its not just in London. #OneLess can be adopted by cities and communities across the world. Its inclusive, experimental and systems-change nature means that lessons can be learned and shared, and the movement can be locally adapted and scaled up internationally.

Underpinning the #OneLess initiative are various programmes of work, including a major, multifaceted litter research programme along the River Thames, to determine levels of plastic entering Londons waterways and being carried out to the ocean. In partnership with teachers and London schools, a #OneLess education programme is being developed, that will be available online for schools across the UK and beyond. And importantly the entire movement is being monitored and evaluated to measure its impact and continually improve its approach.

The #OneLess initiative is led by the Zoological Society of London, Forum for the Future, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean and the Thames Estuary Partnership, with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK and the Oak Foundation.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Other (please specify): Behaviour change and Systems change
  • Coastal clean-ups:
  • Plastics product bans or restrictions :
  • Metrics on organisations taking part; volumes of plastics in the River Thames; behaviour and attitude changes for some focal study organisations
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
December 2021
Refill revolution cultural shift achieved in London
December 2021
Measurable reduction in plastic entering the River Thames
December 2021
Refill revolution cultural shift underway globally, with #OneLess campaign adopted in other locations nationally and internationally
Financing (in USD)
395,950 USD
In-kind contribution
Basic information
Time-frame: 2016 January - 2021 December
Zoological Society of London (NGO), The International Programme on the State of the Oceans (NGO), Forum for the Future (NGO), Thames Estuary Partnership (NGO), Marine Conservation Society (NGO), New Economics Foundation (NGO), ClientEarth (NGO), Institute for European Environmental Policy (NGO), Fauna and Flora International (NGO), MarineCoLABoration (partnership)
Ocean Basins
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Global
  • North Atlantic
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Fiona Llewellyn, Miss, fiona.llewellyn@zsl.org, +4474496483
London, UK
Other SDGs
United Nations