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Two Tourism Companies Launch Travelers Against Plastic


SEATTLE—Two Seattle based travel companies, Crooked Trails and Wildland Adventures, launched a global initiative called Travelers Against Plastic (TAP) to spread awareness about the worldwide impacts of disposable plastic water bottles, and to garner support from outbound tour operators to have their clients carry reusable water bottles and a SteriPEN or filtering system, the next time they travel abroad.

The call to action is for everyone to visit www.travelersagainstplastic.org where travelers can sign the pledge to avoid purchasing bottled water while abroad. Tour operators can pledge to support the campaign by supplying their clients with information on how to travel prepared to filter their own water. Members of the Pacific Northwest tourism industry as well as representatives from the Adventure Travel Trade Association and The International Ecotourism Society came to the downtown Seattle Columbia store to support the initiative and help spread the word.

“Responsible travelers do not want to leave a trail of disposable water bottles behind them but many don’t know how easy it is to avoid it,” says Chris Mackay, who spearheaded the TAP campaign and is the executive director of Crooked Trails. “If we look at how many Americans travel abroad each year, and calculate three bottles of water a day for just one two week trip, that translates to over 3.4 billion plastic water bottles used and likely discarded. We want to do something about it.”

For popular destinations in developing countries the problem is compounded by the lack of recycling facilities. Mexico remains the most popular foreign destination, with 3.3 million U.S. visitors in the first two months of the year. Recycling experts say that only about one-eighth of the 21.3 million plastic water and soft drink bottles that are emptied each day in Mexico get recycled.

Klean Kanteen, SteriPEN Join TAP

Both Klean Kanteen and SteriPEN have joined the TAP campaign and a portion of the sale of every TAP Klean Kanteen bottle goes back to TAP, helping to reduce the trail of plastic waste left by travelers. The SteriPEN utilizes the power of ultraviolet light to eliminate more than 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause water-borne illness.

“It is our responsibility as tour operators to educate our clients that simple steps like bringing reusable water bottles and a SteriPen or filtering system will make a huge difference to the communities we visit and even sends a message to local residents that they can do the same thing,” says Kurt Kutay, founder and CEO of Wildland Adventures. “As well as the issues around disposing the garbage left behind, feeding the bottled water industry requires three times more water than is produced, therefore it takes a toll on wells in rural communities by draining aquifers, lowering lake levels, and hurting wetlands.”

“One SteriPEN can clean up to 8,000 bottles of water,” Mackay says. “And it is often healthier and safer than bottled water in countries where the water treatment is unknown. When you add in the cost and energy it takes to create bottled water, the impacts on local communities and the environment, it just makes more sense to travel with a reusable water bottle prepared to treat your own water.”

According to the “Plastics Unwrapped” exhibit—currently on display until May 27, 2013 at the Burke Museum in Seattle—1,500 disposable plastic water bottles are used every second in the United States. Tap water is just as healthy and costs about 500 times less per quart. Most plastic waste in the ocean is discarded on land and then carried by winds and rivers to the sea. Once there, it poses risks to wildlife, navigation, health, and the environment. For more information, visit www.burkemuseum.org/plastics.

Also go to Klean Kanteen and SteriPEN.