|Kids on the trail
north of Kathmandu
We all know it's bad for the environment in terms of the resources it takes to produce the bottles, the depletion of aquifers to fill them and the pollution problem of disposing of them.
We know bottled water is bad for us; the World Health Organisation just launched a review of bottled water, in fact, after a study in New York found microplastics in 90 per cent of 259 bottles from nine countries. (The Story of Stuff has a great 8-minute video about The Story of Bottled Water.)
But when we travel we often do things we wouldn't do at home.
|What happened to serving water
on flights in refillable jugs?
Sure, plastic bottles are often re-used in countries like these, in creative ways. I've seen them used as hanging pots for plants, cut down to make lamps, turned into pipes on mountain streams.
|Plastic bottle pots in the Philippines
What was heartening on my Nepal trek was that, with the exception of a couple of my fellow trekkers who bought plastic bottles of water every day (adding up to 50 or 60 empty bottles by the end of the trek), everyone in the group treated their drinking water in a variety of ways, to avoid buying plastic bottles.
Here are five of them, all simple, cost-effective ways to avoid bottled water on your next trip:
|Clean water in pill form
|The Lifestraw in action
3. SteriPEN. This one uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilise water; just fill your water bottle, stir it with the SteriPEN for 90 seconds (a green light signals when it's done) and you're ready to drink.
|CamelBak's UV glow
4. CamelBak All Clear. CamelBak has taken things a step further by putting a UV filter in the lid of a BPA-free bottle, plus an LED screen that counts down the 60 seconds it takes to purify the water. It can be recharged by USB port, and a single charge purifies 60 litres of water. It's pricey at $199, but at least it's built into your bottle.
|Purification in two small bottles
Remember to pack your reusable water bottle to use with all of these except #4 and you're good to go. Preferably stainless steel - it's better for you than even BPA-free plastic, more durable than most plastics and recyclable when you're finished with it. Two brands I've used and loved are The Source, which donates $2 of every sale to Sea Shepherd, and Sydney-based Cheeki.
Happy plastic-free travels. (There'll be another post on more plastic-free-travel tips soon.)
*Big thanks to Intrepid Travel for encouraging us all to reduce our use of bottled water on this amazing trek, in line with their strong sustainable travel stance, and for hosting me on the 15-day Tamang Heritage & Langtang Valley trek, which runs Feb-May and Oct-Nov every year.