Travel Without Single-Use Plastics. Can It Be Done?

By STC Expeditions – Guest Blogger

JULY, 2019

It’s easy to have noble principles and good intentions, but putting your money where your mouth is can be another matter entirely. Which is why, here at STC Expeditions, we thought a little fanfare was in order to recognise the achievement of one of our school groups.

Earlier this year, 35 students and 3 teachers from Lycée Bonaparte in Doha travelled to India. Their nine-day adventure saw them land in Delhi, carry out some field-work during a visit to an organic farm in the foothills of the Himalaya, then head over to Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand for a tiger safari.

Like many other of our school groups, the party committed to wholly reject single-use water bottles during the course of the trip. And what’s more, they succeeded.

As a group of expatriates, these students are well travelled, but rarely in the challenging conditions they experienced in India. And coming from the sweltering heat of Qatar, they’re accustomed to regularly drinking from single-use bottles. So to find themselves outside their comfort zone and faced with drinking water filtered only by their own bottle, that was quite an ask.

But the Lycée Bonaparte team had a common goal – all participants wanted to be as respectful as possible to the environment. So when Chris at STC Expeditions suggested travelling with filter bottles and saying a firm ‘no’ to single-use alternatives, they all thought it was an excellent idea. 

Lead Teacher, Sandrine Hage, led by example, and says the students were all highly motivated to make the effort and rather than being daunted or anxious, they trusted the technology of the filter bottles and really enjoyed the challenge of using otherwise unthinkable (and undrinkable) water sources. With their highly effective filter bottles, Indian tap water was perfectly fine to drink. Even river water was fair game! As a happy bonus, being able to purify their own water was far easier than seeking out shops to find ‘safe’ bottles, and using filters cut out the need to carry heavy water supplies everywhere with them. 

India is, of course, a location notorious for upsetting tummies, so how did the students cope? Happily, everyone using a filter bottle stayed healthy throughout – even though they were collecting water from sources that many visitors would baulk at. And though these travellers are used to a hot climate, during their adventure they spent a lot of time getting active outdoors and didn’t have the benefit of the air conditioning they have at home. That meant they needed to drink a lot more than usual to stay properly hydrated. 

The only downside the party could see to self-filtering was the fact that their water was generally lukewarm, so not as refreshing as a chilled drink. But that seems a small price to pay for saving what could amount to over 600 single-use bottles during the course of the nine-day expedition.   

Back at home, the Lycée Bonaparte travellers all have a higher consciousness of the wastefulness of throwaway plastics. And thanks to the NKDWater-To-Go and LifeStraw bottles they used, they had a memorable and healthy trip, proving that ditching single-use plastics while you travel is not only feasible, but wholly possible – even in very hot and challenging destinations. 

Lycée Bonaparte – We salute your fantasitc efforts and are delighted to see the growing number of schools travelling with STC Expeditions that are making this pledge. For more information and to read more about our company “Travellers Against Plastic” Pledge, visit this page: www.thestc.co.uk/traveL/tap

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