Written by Marta Olszewska

Let’s Build a New City Together, One Without Plastic.

I’m Marta, one of the co-founders of Refill Aqua. Today as I find myself on the day 28 of the official country quarantine, I had a thought.

Or maybe a few thoughts.

Life as we know it, has stopped. And it IS really difficult for so many of us. Those who suffer from isolation, medical workers who are in the front lines looking Coronavirus in the eye every single day, and others who struggle to pay the bills as they find themselves without jobs overnight

It takes a great deal of perseverance and patience to be at peace with what’s happening and go on as normally as we possibly can.


The historical market square of Römerberg, Frankfurt’s main tourist spot. Photo byMichael Probst

On days like this, I like to practice gratitude more than ever. And so I’m grateful for those near me whom I can share this with, for the roof above my head, and access to food and water. I’m grateful because I can breathe and find myself in a privileged situation, being able to continue work as usual.

What makes me particularly grateful in this situation is that we’ve been creating significantly less pollution worldwide in the last few weeks. The CO2 emissions haven’t been as low in 30 years. In New York City, pollution reduced by 50%.


For the first time in years Tatra mountains are visible from the city of Krakow, Poland. Photo by Jan Ulicki

There are animals and sea life flowing to unusual places, taking over the waterways and streets.


Venice canals: crystal clean water full of fish. Image by Marco Capovilla

It seems like the planet is cleansing itself from us and sometimes I think it was its way of stopping us and forcing us to slow down.

And so, I reflect on how the world outside my window feels like now and I’m liking it! I like hearing birds in the center of Barcelona instead of cars. I like breathing fresh air and for the first time ever actually talking to my neighbors and helping each other out in need.

I love there are countless initiatives born to support local business, medical workers, or refugees and those without a roof over their heads.

health warriors

A small business, Les Tres a la Cuina, delivers food to medical staff via Health Warriors

I’m happy to see people suddenly give classes for free, whether it’s yoga, meditation, or marketing.

Grow Estudio Barcelona

Teachers of Yoga studio GROW organize free online classes. Donations are welcome.

People have shown their incredible side in all of this and this is what I’m grateful for.

And then I wonder: how will it be when it all comes back to normal? Will we go back to the old ways immediately? Or maybe something can be salvaged?

I’d really like to think we can all preserve the sense of community we’ve created in this crisis and keep working on initiatives together.

So, I’d like to propose that we all think of ways to contribute to forming new, better and healthier cities.

Let’s Create a New City, Together

I’d like us all to come back to the new Barcelona: one that is much less polluted and where connections and community matter, as they once used to.

And I need your help - to create a city without plastic. To establish a network of refill stations around the city where anyone can just walk in and refill their bottle on the go.

You, people who live in Barcelona, know better than anyone else where you would like to find such refill stations. More so, you probably know a small local business or two who is a perfect candidate to become a refill station.

Refill Aqua app

Refill Aqua app with its refill stations.

All they have to do is offer filtered water to anyone who needs it and they will be added to our app for free and get a sticker for their window: one like below :) (in one of 3 languages).

Refill your bottle here sticker

What do you get out of this?

First of all, a sheer satisfaction from being part of an incredible community who contributes to building a better, cleaner city with less plastic in its sea and beaches.

Secondly, if you help bring a refill station on board, we are going to attribute it to you in our app! That’s right: we can link to your website or private profile to give you exposure or just mention your name so that you’re always present and part of the project.

We are also willing to write an article about you if you’d like to share your tips on how to live more sustainably and link to your business.

Most importantly - I feel like this is an ideal time to reinvent ourselves and help build a better place, the one we would actually want to live in.

Will you join me?

If you know of a friendly small business located in Barcelona with easy access from the street, do tell them about us and let me know about it below:

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Avatar of Marta Olszewska

Marta Olszewska

Co-founder of Refill Aqua striving to reduce single-use plastic waste. Marta is also a marketing consultant and growth mentor helping startups tell better stories through content.