One Bottle at a Time
Reducing our plastic usage across Asia
Tap water in Asia is not always reliable, and bottled water is the common solution, but it does result in a lot of plastic waste. In 2017, Annie set us the challenge of reducing our plastic water bottle waste in Asia by 75% in 2020.
Never one to shirk a challenge, and long-time advocates of better refuse and recycling practices in the region (our guides have actively promoted the cause on their shirts since 2009), we have set about changing the way we operate.
Plastic pollution is one of the most unnecessary threats facing our environment. At Selective Asia HQ, we all do our bit to be plastic conscious, recycling and reusing wherever possible. We’re also keen to tackle unnecessary plastic waste in the countries that we operate in.
To meet Annie’s challenge, we must tackle our two main sources of plastic bottles - the drinking water that you'll obtain for yourself while you’re on holiday, as well as the water we provide in our vehicles.
No one likes seeing a plastic bag bobbing next to them in the sea, or a bottle wash up on the shore… Nobody likes to drink plastic, either - a recent survey found microplastics in over 130 samples of tap water from around the world. The good news is that as individuals we can all do our bit to combat this, and to protect the environments that we love to travel in.
When travelling in Asia, it is important that you have regular access to safe and clean drinking water, but now more than ever it is important that drinking clean water doesn’t have a negative impact on the country that you are travelling in, and protects the water source for future generations.
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And in the meantime......
While we work on launching in the rest of our destinations, we recommend our clients travel with a reusable water bottle - the best we have tried and tested is the ‘Water-to-Go’ bottle. The filter has been independently tested against internationally recognised standards by industry specialists in the USA, Europe and India; all have confirmed that the filters eliminate over 99.9% of harmful contaminants in water, meaning that you can safely fill your water bottle with any water source (apart from salt water!) and drink safe water everywhere you go.
The Selective Asia team have been using the bottles throughout Asia, and we would love you to do the same. Every client that books with us will receive 15% discount off any Water-to-Go bottle and we will also donate a further 15% of the cost of the bottle to Water.org - a charity dedicated to clean drinking water and sanitation to communities around the world. Please ask for the special discount code from your Destination Specialist.
We believe we can make a start on reducing the number of plastic drinking water bottles we currently supply by replacing them with refillable aluminium drinking bottles. As you can probably imagine, this is no simple undertaking, as we supply reliable, cooled and safe drinking water at every stage of your journey.
We are working with our local partners to introduce a scheme that will allow our clients to refill their reusable bottles from water stations at key partner hotels and portable water canisters, which will be carried in the vehicles we use.
We are also currently collaborating with two local NGOs, Refill Not Landfill & Exo Foundation who are focussed on the specific topic of water bottle waste reduction in Asia. We believe that by sharing knowledge and good practice, we will be able to work with them towards achieving our goal.
Both of these organizations have existing frameworks in place in certain countries in Asia which we can utilize to fulfil our goal.
Thailand: Project launched in 2018
Cambodia: Project launched in 2018
Laos: Project launched in 2018
Myanmar: Project launched May 2019
Sri Lanka: Project launched July 2019
Indonesia: Project launched July 2019
Malaysia/Borneo: Project due to launch September 2019
Vietnam Project launched August 2019
Japan Initial bottle delivery refused by customs, we are currently looking at alternative options. Launch date unknown
Taiwan, Philippines, S. Korea, Nepal, Bhutan & Tibet: Initial consultations and feasibility assessment to begin shortly. Launch date unknown
Latest update: April, 2019
We’ve now been working on this project for 18 months and there have been a lot of learnings during this time. Despite considerable investment, both financial and time, we are still only part way there; and whilst we are undoubtedly very proud of the progress we are making (in the process being the only tailor-made specialist to tackle the challenge head on and put it at the very heart of our operation), we still have a very long way to go.
We called the project One Bottle at a Time for exactly that reason, we are trying to improve and ultimately fix the problem step-by-step. We didn’t want to wait until we had every base covered before we launched it for the simple reason that we doubt we ever will achieve that. We’ve come a long way, no question, however it’s not easy and there have been, and will undoubtedly continue to be, setbacks and disappointments.
We encourage you to join us on this journey. Our intention now is to create a community of travellers who collectively look at this issue and potential solutions. We’re happy to answer any questions you have and to share more detail on where the project is working well, and where we’re facing challenges. We want to be fully transparent on our progress (and setbacks) at as we continue to work towards our goal. We’re also more than happy to hear any ideas around this topic and the work we are doing.
Our approach to responsible travel
Accountability & points of action
Since our inception in 2006, helping our clients to travel 'the right way' has always been one of Selective Asia's core values; introducing the responsible backpacker's mindset to a higher grade of travel. This hasn’t changed, however with the benefit of hindsight, older minds and a sharpened awareness we recognise that is plenty that we must do better.
How to travel responsibly
We believe in making travel a force for good, and do everything possible to make sure your holidays in Asia benefit the people and animals who call it home. We work closely with ethical community enterprises and NGOs in the region, that ensure the benefit from your travel goes to the right places, and our initiative One Bottle at a Time has helped reduce 90,000 in 2019 alone.