Travels insidious companion- How to limit your plastic bottle use abroad.

One of the best ways to expand your experience and widen your perspective on the world is through travel. Fear is an almost infinite source of conflict. But fear can be vanquished by simply getting to know a country, a region and its people. You can’t hate someone you understand. There is no need to let fear stand in the way of travel.

I guess it is a little redundant for me to talk about the importance of travel. Since that is the main thing that I write about online. However this article has a more specific focus.

The benefits of travel on the growth of human experience cannot be overstated. These benefits can manifest themselves in so many different ways. However, there is an exchange.

Travel creates a great deal of waste and stress on the world. From the enormous environmental cost of transportation by plane, train or bus to the waste generated by products consumed. The damage caused by a human presence at sacred and touristic sites is also a factor. This can be seen when you look at the effects of increased amounts of travelers to places like the Camino Inca and Machu Picchu .

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The above is from the “Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.” I found this photo here

http://rosannefreed.wordpress.com/tag/stop-buying-plastic-water-bottles/

The proliferation of plastic usage in South America, in this case Peru, is a problem. The waste generated by both the Peruvian people and the annual visits of millions of tourists is choking the environment. The refuse in the Urabamba river is shameful. Peru doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to recycle this waste. And the idea of reusing materials is a foreign concept to most of the population.

Obviously as a traveller, you cannot drink the water from the tap in a lot of countries, which forces you to buy bottled water. The daily waste generated by this regrettable but necessary tactic is excessive.

But what choice do you have? Well here are 7.

Option 1-Boiling your water

. This is a simple process if you have the facilities to do so in the hotel, hostal or family homestay, this is a great option. Once it is boiled, let it cool overnight or in the fridge, if you are lucky enough to have one and then put the water in your large water bottle. In this way, you have just reused plastic and generated your own drinking water. Well done.

Taste of boiled water

Some may complain about the taste of the water. But really, get over it, it is water.  Just think of it another travel adventure. If you don’t have facilities for this, ask the place of accommodation to provide Agua phura. IF enough people ask, the owners will start to realize the importance of this.

Option 2-Buy Large Amounts of water at a time

It is likely that you will be forced on some occasions to buy water. You can limit your plastic consumption and your cost by buying the largest bottles of water you can. Especially if you buy them at the larger Supermarkets. Some of the large bottles even have convenient handles that make reuse easier.

Option 3-Ceramic Filters

This is a low cost option. If you are going to be in the same place for an extended period of time, these are a great option. It can be as simple as a porous ceramic pot which sits in a plastic bucket that has a spout on the bottom. The ceramic pot filters the water naturally and leaves little noticeable after taste. They are relatively cheap and could save a lot of money and more importantly a lot of plastic. If you don’t want to lug it around with you, consider the purchase of one a donation to the place you are staying. In this way you are leveraging the impact of your own conservation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic_water_filter

Option 4-Water purification pills

With these, there are many options. I used some that are available in shops in Cusco, when I went did the Camino Inca trek. It is a little weird at first, but you can easily get used to the taste. Some have different tastes than others, but you can get used to them all. The benefits are obvious. They are low cost, usually one pill for either one or two liters of water. Some take a few minutes and others a few hours to clean the water. With a little bit of planning, these can be a great resource. Note- These are recommended mainly to be used with tap water. If you plan on using water from streams make sure the pills you get can handle that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_water_purification

Option 5 -Water purification devices.

Many camping supply stores have these available. They can be attached to a reusable water bottle and will purify water from many different types of sources. This of course depends on the type you get. They don’t take up much space and can go a long way for many travelers.

http://www.backcountry.com/water-filters

This is just one site. You can find these at many different places. Make sure you look around and find the option that is best for your needs.

Option 6-Lifesaver Water Bottle

The all in one water purifier and reusable water bottle. This device was designed to be used in disaster situations and can utilize water from almost any source. It doesn’t have a whole lot of capacity for storage but since it can use almost any water, you don’t need to carry much. This approximates filling my klean Kanteen from the tap while I am in the U.S.  Very convenient and well worth it. I only met one person who used this option. Great for the rugged camper, hostal hopper and even the luxury hotel user.

The Lifesaver bottle can be found here  http://www.lifesaversystems.com/

There are also many other options on the market, but this is the one that I was focusing on.

Option 7- Reusable water bottles

This is not really an option for purification, but rather a strategy for storage. There is a reason that people buy the smaller plastic water bottles, they are convenient and easy to store and carry. Not everyone drinks 4 liters of water a day and they don’t want to be burdened by lugging around a giant water bottle everywhere. Many people solve this problem by purchasing little bottles along the way.

There are two problems with this. First, they do not last very long. Second, they generate a lot of waste. Some people use the rationale that they will keep using the bottle and therefore limit the waste. While this idea has good intentions, it often fails in practice. A plastic water bottle is not something that one can put a whole lot of value in. It is easy to lose, crush and make flimsy, or accidentally throw out.

To deal with these problems, I advocate the use of reusable water bottles. They are smaller and easier to carry around with you. They are less likely to break and their monetary value will stop them from being thrown out. They are also easier to become attached to. Of course, you have to resist the temptation to fill them from the tap. But that is easily done. They come in all sorts of styles. I recommend the no plastic Kleen Kanteen reflect. It has served me well in Argentina, Peru and Bolivia and at home. There are also many other options. They come in a vast array of colors and sizes. Some are even food grade and can transport wine and beer, a nice perk.

With some awareness and effort, you can limit the waste generated by traveling. Until clean water is made available for the entire world we travelers can use our awareness to limit the impact of our wanderings.

A note on Water…

And if you are interested in helping spread the availability of clean water around the world. This is a great place to do so. It is not only the responsibility of travelers to widen their perspective and help each other out. We also have a responsibility to do something real to help the inhabitants of the countries we visit.

https://www.charitywater.org

~Viva Aventura

C.A.

2 thoughts on “Travels insidious companion- How to limit your plastic bottle use abroad.

  1. Really great advice! I would also suggest whole house solutions like attaching a UV micron filter along the main water line. It’s a great way to eliminate chlorine, fluorine as well. Have a great holiday everyone!

    1. True,I was mainly focused on travel, that would definitely be a good thing while at home, just because the tap water here doesn’t make you sick right away, doesn’t mean there aren’t bad things in it. And happy holidays to you.

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