Seattle-based travel companies Crooked Trails and Wildland Adventures founded the global initiative called Travelers Against Plastic (TAP) late last week. The campaign intends to spread awareness about the impacts of disposable plastic water bottles and garner support from outbound tour operators to have their clients carry re-useable water bottles and a Steripen or filtering system the next time they travel abroad.
Crooked Trails executive director Chris Mackay says Americans who travel abroad each year use — and likely discard — more than 3.4 billion plastic bottles.
The travel groups say the problem is compounded in developing counties by the lack of recycling facilities. Some 3.3 million US visitors traveled to Mexico in January and February. Only about one-eighth of the 21.3 million plastic water and soft drink bottles emptied each day in Mexico get recycled, according to the companies.
In addition to leaving plastic waste behind, the bottled water industry uses three times more water than it produces, taking a toll on wells in rural communities by draining aquifers, lowering lake levels and hurting wetlands, Wildland Adventures CEO Kurt Kutaysays.
Klean Kanteen will donate a portion of the sale of every TAP bottle back to the initiative.
The Steripen uses ultraviolet light to eliminate more than 99.9 per cent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause water-borne illness, according to the company. One Steripen can clean up to 8,000 bottles of water.
The TAP campaign is the latest effort in a country-wide push to promote reusable water bottles and curb plastic waste. Last month, reusable water pouch maker Vapur and stainless steel sink company Elkay partnered to install water-bottle refilling stations on campuses across the US. The companies say billions of bottles of water are consumed globally every year, and less than 20 percent are recycled.
As of last March, in a move that may hurt the $22 billion US packaged-water industry, more than 90 educational institutions including Brown, Harvard and the University of Vermont had banned the sale of or restricted use of plastic water bottles on campus.