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The idea of responsible tourism can be a little overwhelming, a mountain to climb without knowing where the footpath starts. We’ve found a great first step, simple, easy but still incredibly important.
Travellers Against Plastic (TAP) is a campaign which seeks to educate global travellers about the harmful impact of plastic water bottles and encourage travellers to clean their own water instead.
Here at the STC we have taken the TAP pledge which states:
I pledge to use my company to promote sustainable travel and will encourage travellers to avoid buying bottled water when they travel. In addition, I will provide our travellers the proper information they need to treat their own drinking water. I also pledge to spread the word to travellers I meet, both at home and abroad.
Why is it important?
Just one plastic bottle a day adds up. Let’s take our incredible expedition through remote Venezuela as an example and look at the numbers:
If we had 16 students, 2 teachers, 1 guide and 3 support staff all drinking one bottle of water each day they would get through 651 bottles in just one trip. It’s scary stuff.
As well as avoiding leaving a gingerbread trail of plastic bottles, cleaning your own water can:
There are many reusable bottles you can choose from (you could even sell some branded with your trip logo to raise funds!) and there are also several methods you can use to clean your water falling into three categories: electronic, chemical or mechanical.
Electronic methods use a small device which cleans the water with UV light and examples include a Steripen. Just one pen cleans 8000 bottles of water and one battery charge will last for a 10-14 day trip. This sort of device usually costs around £50-110 which means one bottle of water costs less than a penny, not bad at all!
There are loads of chemical tablets to dissolve in your water out on the market. These are effective and simple to use although they will leave your water tasting a little funny. A packet of tablets is as little as £5-10 and they usually workout at about 0.25 pence per bottle.
There are various mechanical devices which work a little like a coffee press. These cost around £80 for all the kit and are very effective.Each filter set will clean about 300 bottles of water.
We think it makes sense so why not have a look at the TAP website yourself and sign the travellers pledge!
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If you've not heard of The STC before, we're probably the best kept secret of the school trips industry. We started life in 2006 and have been quietly shaking the tree of knowledge ever since. Innovative school expeditions, exceptional educational school trips abroad and a firm commitment to travel responsibly have connected us to a tribe of passionate teachers. If you, like them, are intent on stretching the global horizons of young people then, to mis-quote Lionel Ritchie, "Hello... It is us you're looking for!”