The ocean supports all life on Earth and its health is inseparable from our own, but this is being increasingly threatened by plastic pollution: by 2050, experts predict there will be a greater weight of plastic than fish in the sea. Some 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean annually, with single-use items making up much of the total volume. Drinks bottles are among the worst contributors.
#OneLess was set up in 2016 as an experiment to turn the tide against single-use plastic within a complex urban setting, and hence to tackle ocean plastic pollution at its source. It aimed to change the way Londoners drink water – to move from discarding more than 1 billion single-use bottles each year, to refilling and reusing instead. Lessons learned from the campaign would be shared and adapted around the world to catalyse global change.
Approach and delivery
Communications Inc came on board at the inception of #OneLess to give strategic advice and guidance to the team, with whom we worked in close collaboration for the five years the campaign lasted. We designed the #OneLess brand; and took care of all communications, including campaign materials (reports, social media, branded giveaways etc), website development and digital presence, and media relations. We helped build partnerships with businesses, policymakers, innovators and communities.
In the course of our work with #OneLess we were instrumental in launching the high-profile ‘Hello London Goodbye Ocean Plastic’ campaign, which urged Londoners to ‘Drink water the London way. Stop using plastic water bottles.’ This included setting up a network of drinking fountains around the capital, and working with major tourist attractions to spread the message through a range of events and promotions. We partnered with JCDecaux on an outdoor advertising campaign.
The #OneLess campaign also went further afield. Memorably, the team was particularly visible at the first ever UN Ocean Conference in New York, working with the UN to reduce the plastic footprint of the conference, and to discourage participants from bringing single-use bottles into UN HQ.
#OneLess has made a genuine difference, and not just through its own network of 29 fountains which refill 30,000 bottles each month. A strong relationship with City Hall influenced a £5 million mayoral investment in hundreds more drinking fountains for London, and a network of 90+ organisations committed to greater sustainability has eliminated more than 5 million single-use plastic water bottles. Some 200 citizen scientists have taken part in more than 90 bottle clean-ups on the River Thames.
The ‘Hello London, Goodbye Ocean Plastic’ campaign reached 5 million people, with 1 in 3 Londoners who saw it saying they were more likely to stop buying plastic water bottles. What’s more, the #OneLess approach has reached far beyond the English capital. Today, #OneLess is a rapidly growing global movement of individuals, communities, businesses, NGOs and policymakers who are together creating a ‘refill revolution’.