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Practical ways to reduce plastic waste on your Asia holiday

by Guest author on 18th April 2018

Here’s a sobering statistic: around the world, one million plastic bottles of water are bought every single minute. Here’s another - if you placed all the bottles bought in 2016 end-to-end, they would reach more than halfway to the sun. And less than half of them were recycled. The majority went to landfill or into the ocean, where they pose a major hazard to marine life and, along with other plastic waste, eventually end up in our own food cycle.

Plastic waste, and the damage it’s causing to the environment, is all over the news at the moment. It’s fantastic that this issue is finally getting the attention it needs. The latest news about a plastic-eating enzyme has even given us hope for a solution to the waste that’s already circulating, and more people and businesses are taking matters into their own hands and making the effort to reduce their plastic waste.

But however diligently we ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ at home, plastic in Asia can pose more of a challenge. The tap water can’t always be trusted, so it’s unsurprising that many travellers choose bottled water. Much of the region’s famous street-food is served in plastic bags and containers. Add in the prevalence of miniature hotel toiletries, and the fact many Asian countries lack the facilities to recycle effectively (in some island nations especially) and you can see how travel-related plastic waste can lead to dramatic problems.

We’ve seen the problems for ourselves in Asia, and we believe it’s vital that everyone involved in the travel industry, from providers to guests, takes the initiative in reducing their plastic waste.

What is Selective Asia doing to reduce plastic waste in Asia?

In 2017, our Destination Specialist Annie set us a challenge: to reduce our plastic bottle usage in Asia by 50% in the year ahead. Now - if there’s anything the team at Selective Asia enjoys anywhere near as much as they enjoy travelling, it’s a good challenge. As a result, we introduced our One Bottle at a Time scheme.

This project involves working with our local partners to develop a system whereby clients can refill their water bottles at key hotels, and from portable water canisters in the vehicles we use. It’s one heck of an undertaking, and is easier in some countries than others, but we’re certain it’s the right thing to do, so we’re rolling it out as quickly as possible.

(Click here for the latest progress on our One Bottle at a Time project)

In addition, anyone who books with us will receive a 15% discount on a reusable Water-to-Go bottle, and we’ll also make a donation equal to 15% of the cost to the charity Water.org. Water-to-Go bottles have a filtration system that eliminates over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any (non-salt) water source.

Each filter lasts about three months, so you can refill from the tap throughout your trip in safety. Water-to-Go have even admitted that you could use the bottles to safely filter your own urine, if you were in dire straits. We’re not ones to dictate what you should and shouldn’t drink, but we’re confident that won’t be necessary on a Selective Asia holiday! 

We hope that you’ll join us in our mission to reduce plastic bottle usage on our Asia tours. If you’re interested in other ways you can contribute to this urgent situation, here are a few more tips on how you can reduce your plastic consumption while travelling:

Ways to cut your own plastic usage when travelling