In Nepal you will find plastic bottles with mineral water everywhere and you will get a plastic bag with everything you buy. But where does this plastic go after its one-time use? Plastic waste is not recycled in Nepal, but ends up in a landfill in the middle of nature. That is why it is very important to use as little plastic as possible during your trip through Nepal so that this is reduced.
But how can you travel plastic-free in Nepal? We would like to give you some tips so that you as a traveler can do your part by avoiding the use of plastic during your trip as much as possible.
Single use plastic bottles of water
In Nepal the water from the tap is nowhere drinkable. So to drink enough you quickly buy 2 bottles of mineral water a day. For a trip of 2 weeks you have already used about 30 bottles. Below are some tips on how to avoid this and still drink water safely during your Nepal trip.
1. Bring your own refillable bottle
During your trip in Nepal, in more and more places you can refill your own water bottle with drinking water from large refillable water bottles. We encourage all accommodations we work with to make these water containers available to their customers on their domain. In most of the accommodations you can refill your water bottle in the breakfast room or at the reception. Sometimes it is not immediately visible where you can refill your water bottle and it is best to ask the reception. In some hotel rooms there is a kettle. You can also refill your water bottle with boiled tap water, which is also safe.
2. Bring a thermos flask
If you are travelling around Nepal during a colder period or going into the Himalayas, a heat-resistant thermos flask is definitely recommended. If you wrap a towel around it in the evening, you immediately have a delicious hot water bottle for your bed. The next day you immediately have drinking water.
3. Bring a water filter or Steripen
Nowadays there are a lot of systems to make non-potable water drinkable. A first way is with a Steripen. The Steripen works on the basis of ultraviolet light and settles in a short time with 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses and protozoa. You stir the Steripen for about a minute and a half through the water in your refillable water bottle and your water is ready to drink. In addition, there is the Grayl Water Filter, which makes any type of fresh water safe. You push the water filter down into the water. Meanwhile, the filter removes bacteria, viruses, chemicals and heavy metals from the water. After 150 litres, the water filter is “exhausted”. Finally there is the Lifestraw Go. A Lifestraw Go is a refillable bottle fitted with a water filter. There is a drinking spout on the bottle and when you drink you suck the water through the filter (the straw). You just fill your bottle with tap water and you can drink it right away. The filter kills 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa. If you also want to stop the viruses, use chlorine.
4. Use water purification tablets
If you don’t want to invest in the purchase of a water filter or Steripen, water purification tablets are a good and also safe alternative. In Nepal you can buy iodine tablets. A disadvantage of water purification tablets is that the water gets a strange taste of it. This can be solved by adding a powder with a nice fruit flavor (Tang).
5. Don’t use the free plastic water bottles
In many hotels you will still find one or two plastic bottles of mineral water on your bedside table. If you drink them empty, you will get the next new plastic bottles. Usually you can refill your water bottle at a water container in the breakfast room or at the reception, so leave those plastic water bottles.
Refill My Bottle
We recently became ambassador of Refill My Bottle. RefillMyBottle is an online map that identifies all the places – whether a café, resort, museum or shop – where you can fill your refillable bottle with clean drinking water for free or at a minimum rate. In this way we want to offer a simple alternative to buying bottles of water and thus reduce the number of disposable plastic bottles.
In Nepal there is still a lot of work to be done and you can help with that! Become part of this community of responsible travelers, conscious locals and observant entrepreneurs who take action against plastic waste. Download the RefillMyBottle app on your smartphone and fill your bottle at the refill stations. Add refill stations that you encounter on your journey, but are not yet in the app. Talk about this initiative in locations where you can’t refill your bottle with the owner. Awareness-raising is the beginning of change.
Feel free to share photos of the refill stations you encounter on social media and use the hashtags #refillmybottle #planetorplastic and #refillnotlandfill.
Other plastic waste
Plastic bags are officially forbidden in Nepal, but almost everywhere you still automatically get a bag with your groceries. When you have your own shopping bag with you, you don’t need plastic bags. In Nepal you can find a lot of nice bags in different materials: hemp, cotton, bamboo… and a nice extra is that they are often made by a women’s cooperative or social enterprise.
Don’t ask explicitly for a plastic straw in your drink. A straw may seem small, but straws are not recycled and end up in nature or later in the ocean. In Nepal you can find paper, bamboo or metal straws in some restaurants or bars.
In your room you often find small plastic containers with soap, shampoo, etc. Bring your own refillable bottles with shampoo or soap. Or even better: buy an herbal shampoo bar in Nepal.
Covid-19 update: To avoid that disposable mouth masks end up in nature, we advice to bring a reusable mouth mask, or buy one of a local women cooperation!