Save water, drink beer is not just a cheeky slogan for college dorm room posters, but strategy I’ve adopted when eating out in Yangon. Except it isn’t water I am trying to save, but the plastic bottle that it comes in. On several recent restaurant outings, I found myself attempting to ask for filtered water instead of bottled water, only to be met with bewildered looks followed by the dreaded “ma shi bu.” Thirsty but adamant to resist the single-use plastic bottle, I usually end up ordering a beer instead.

The practice of exclusively offering bottled water at restaurants is a huge contributor to the billion single-use plastic water bottles that end up in landfills across Myanmar every year. Last month I highlighted the work of Thant Myanmar, a grassroots campaign focused on raising awareness of the devastating environmental effects of plastic waste on our planet. Many of the campaign’s initiatives will be launched in early June as part of World Environment Day, including RefillNotLandfill Asia, a program across Southeast Asia which aims to cut down on disposable plastic water bottles by offering free refill stations across six countries, and reusable aluminum water bottles.

Starting this June, water refill stations will be popping up around town, from restaurants and hotels to businesses, schools and shops—including Sprouts, Gekko, Rose Garden Hotel, CCI France and all of Yoma Bank’s retail locations to name a few. Our first small batch of aluminum water bottles will be available for purchase at Nourish Café, Union Bar and ChuChu. Many more businesses have pre-ordered bottles, set to be delivered in the upcoming months. Branded with a QR code that takes you to a Google map of nearby refill stations, this bottle is your ticket to guilt-free water all across Southeast Asia.

My personal goal is to sign on all of MYANMORE’s Top 100 Dining & Nightlife venues to join in this initiative by the end of 2018, either by offering refill stations or at the minimum, an alternative to plastic bottles for thirsty diners who forgot their reusable ones. When that happens, we can all toast with a nice cold beer, by choice.

To learn more about RefillNotLandfill, visit

Jojo Yang is the co-founder of MYANMORE Green Award winner Nourish Café and Yangon Yoga House, where she is also the main yoga instructor.

Address: 36/38 Alan Pya Pagoda Road (Down a small spooky alley, opposite Park Royal Hotel) , Dagon Township
Phone: 09 973 802714
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs (10am-9pm), Fri-Sat (10am-3pm), Sun (10am-7pm)


  1. Dear Jojo; I think it’s a great initiative. Though I have one big question.
    If the refill stations use the big dispenser bottles how are they treating their hygiene? Often these bottles are quite dirty on the outside and they are plonked into the dispenser station with unwashed hands! This a big issue for me in refilling my waterbottles and I think to begin with, was one of the reasons we all want our private waterbottles in a restaurant. So while in this process of change, we need to see to it that we water we are drinking is not coming with a bonus of bacteria we did not order! Thank you!


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