6 Ways to Travel Without Buying Water.12 Jul 2018
350 million plastic water bottles are used globally each day ...that's right! ..... THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY...MILLION! ... A DAY!
That's a lot of plastic! And at a decomposition rate of 700 years or so per bottle, that's not good for our planet, to put it mildly.
What can you do about it? Well, we can all play a role at planet saving here. At home, with our first class tap water, there is no reason to be buying bottled water.
A "Plastic Ocean" art display in Phuket Thailand 2017 and image from the ABC's War on Waste
But what about while traveling?
"The practice of buying water in single use plastic bottles has become a throw away thought when on the road (pun intended)".
It's common in the developing world to see tourists buying-up on bottled water because tap water is unsafe. Let’s say you need an average 1 - 3 litres of water per day when traveling in the tropics, and this could double in really hot climates. The ocean is where most of those bottles will end up. Wow! At this rate, we could probably create a plastic bottle bridge across the Pacific Ocean!
So how do you avoid buying bottled water?
Here are 6 solutions that are super easy and can also save you money - particularly if you are doing a lot of traveling.
1. Get a little tech
- The Steripen - $100US. This gadget uses UV to sterilise water. It's simple and quick. My first use of the Steripen involved 3 of us traveling through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for 3 weeks. We used it everyday, did not buy any water, and no one got sick. #Note – You need to stir the liquid so the trick is to have a reusable bottle with the largest opening you can find, that way stirring is so much easier.
- The Sawyer water bottle at $36US removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, that's enough for weakest of stomachs. Yes it's made of plastic - think of it as 'buy 1, save 1000s' . The ingenious squeeze design pushes water through the filter so, even though it's from the filthiest of taps, when it's in your glass it's perfectly drinkable.
- The Lifestraw is so easy to use, you literally use it like a straw and drink through it from a glass of tap water or a stream. It not only removed parasites and bacteria, it also removed micro plastics. Bonus!
Either one of these can save you money on your travels. Estimated savings from a trip: $1 / 1ltr bottled water, 2-3 bottles per day / pp (minimum), 21 day trip = $60 saved per person. By the way, 4 years on, my Steripen is still going strong - and has paid for itself many times over.
Sawyer filter and Steripen
2. Crack into a coconut
Passport - check
Credit card - check
Undies - check
Steripen or Sawyer bottle....... uuuh oops! Damn I forgot it!
SO what can I do?
Well, I recently traveled to Bali and Thailand and avoided purchasing a single plastic bottle. Here’s how I did it.
Do you like coconut water? In the tropics it costs about 1/5 of its Australian price. Arm yourself with a reusable bamboo straw (Cost $1) and grab a fresh coconut or two each day. The average price in my experience is between $1 and $2 on the street (estimated volume 500ml - 700ml). And there are added nutrients. 1 or 2 of these per day has never done me any harm. In fact, in really humid conditions their liquid is probably better than plain water.
A daily Balinese Coconut - 15,000 Indonesian Rupiah $1US
3. Boil & rest
Need more plain water? If so, a simple solution is to boil the kettle in your hotel room before you go to bed. In the morning it's cooled enough for you to fill your reusable bottle. If you don't like the taste, carry some Berocca and flavour it, if you are drinking too much Bintang your probably familiar with this product already.
4. Carry an empty
Surf shops, hotels, cafes, diveshops and resturants all over SE Asia are now starting to offer refill stations. The idea is catching on. So keep your refillable bottle in your bag. Try your own hotel and restaurant in the morning - they will likely fill your bottle. It can't hurt to ask! If your hotel includes breakfast, fill all your bottles in the restaurant there and then.
In Bali? Try the Refill Bali website for free refill options around the island and Refill not Landfill for more places in SE Asia, (you can find many of these on the fair food forager app). If you are a business Try Refill My Bottle. Or register as a refill station and help others, here.
Enjoy a coffee, tea or fresh juice? Sit down for 10 minutes and enjoy it in a chilled way from a ceramic or glass cup. Many of these cafes or juice bars will also serve chilled table water. You can easily top up your fluids while surfing the free Wi-Fi and indulging in your favourite vice, your on holidays anyway, so sit down.
This one's for the the long stayers. You can save a lot of money and hassle by seeking out a filtered water supplier. In my experience it costs about $10 to hire the stand with the tap, and about $6 for 20 litres of water delivered. That’s a cost of about 30c / litre.
You know the ones I mean. They are often delivered to work places and resturants you can order the same system for very little outlay.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money to make a real difference to the environment. The more of us who do this, the more picture perfect those beautiful tropical beaches on our planet will be.
The Nazava filter in Bali is very cool as well, affordable and refill over and over from the tap.
While you are travelling around "plastic bottle free" in somewhere like Cambodia, check out these really cool places to stay at All The Rooms
Join the movement and help the planet, one drink of water at a time.
Check out the #pelotonagainstplastic for our journey across SE Asia avoiding single use plastic.
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