Responsible Travel: The Environment

We love to travel, it’s what we work for and what we look forward to using our holidays for each year. Running trips in Nepal for us is a passion and we love taking our clients out on a wild adventure they will remember for a lifetime. But it’s not all about the adventure, we hope everyone who travels with us does their part for responsible travel and leaves with a bit more awareness of their impact on the environment. Nepal is a third world country and currently does not have the infrastructure in place to arrange garbage collection, let alone run recycling plants. While hopefully one day they will be in a position to offer this, just now they are not. So with each plastic bottle you buy, that’s another one that could end up back in the river we just rafted. So what can we do and what can you do when you visit not just Nepal, but other countries to take part in responsible travel and reduce your impact on the environment?

Plastic Bottles:

Plastic bottle waste in Nepal - Responsible travel(www.greenfilmnet.org/waste-mandala-the-future-of-nepal-begins-from-plastic/)

Plastic bottles are everywhere in Nepal, from the shop sales desk to the bush on the side of the road. They are the bane of responsible travel. Whilst there are clean ups in place there are still many plastic bottles being used that cannot be recycled. So what can you do? Bring a water bottle with you. A reusable water bottle is not expensive, you can refill it where possible and is a great first step on your responsible travel journey. You cannot drink the water out the taps in Nepal but all the hotels we stay at in Kathmandu and Pokhara have water fountains in the restaurant for you to fill your water bottle. In homestays, you can ask for boiled water, wait until it cools and fill your bottle that way. This is probably something you do everyday in work, most of us have a reusable water bottle and we don’t think twice, so why not use it as a responsible traveller abroad too?

To give you an idea, if we take 8 people on tour and no one brought a reusable water bottle, Everyone used two litre bottles of water a day, for 14 days. That’s 224 single use water bottles that have gone back into the environment. Using a reusable water bottle where possible, can more than half this number. Which is amazing!

Biodegradable Products:

Biodegradable soaps for responsible travel

The water in Nepal is not safe to drink from the tap. This is down to multiple reasons, the plumbing isn’t the best and the water isn’t treated the same way as what it is in our country. Much of the water waste will flow back into the rivers or the land, especially in rural areas. So what we put in the water and use while washing is important. While on tour in Nepal, we encourage all our clients to think about responsible travel by buying biodegradable products instead of bringing their favourite soap brands with them. Often only a few pounds from your local outdoors store but will ensure the soap/shampoo/conditioner will not pollute and potentially poison the land and rivers we love to explore with you. Keeping the rivers clean of nasty chemicals means we can come back and raft the rivers year after year and is the essence of a responsible traveller. Not only that, it keeps locals in a job, keeps fish healthy in the river and gives people who need it access to water and food they can use.

Plastic Bags:

Local Shopping - responsible Travel

In the west, especially in the UK it is now a norm to use a reusable bag each time we go shopping because if we don’t, we have to pay for a bag and 20p is money we don’t want to give away for a bag! This introduction has been great and our plastic bag usage has dropped significantly which then means, the waste of plastic bags is reducing. Nepal does not have this yet. You will still get given plastic bags with your purchase. If you’ve read this far, you’ll know where those bags will end up. So what can you do as a responsible traveller? Why not bring a reusable bag with you and use it when you go shopping. Reusable bags are great to bring on a trip for putting laundry in but also shopping. We at River and Soul Adventures encourage responsible travel by providing a welcome pack which comes in a bag which is either biodegradable or reusable. So if you didn’t bring one, we got you!

Practice Leave No Trace:

Sun Koshi beach and a kayakKayaking

Many of our trips involve venturing into the outdoors, many include over a week out on the rivers. Being outdoors is great! It’s the best way to explore Nepal and really see the country in all its beauty. When you raft the rivers through a country you don’t have hotels and eco lodges on the beaches welcoming you in. Instead we have comfortable camping setups and we all help to set up the campsite. From digging the toilet hole to putting up tents and collecting firewood, it’s a team effort. With so much gear and equipment, not to mention food scattered around the beach. As a responsible travel company, it’s hugely important to us to ensure we leave absolutely no trace when we pack up the next day.

This means, no burning rubbish we take that out with us. That means, not forgetting tent pegs or any materials. That means not leaving food wrappers or anything that won’t decompose naturally. If we find anything left behind which is not ours, we take it out because, why not? Being responsible for the beaches, ensures we can come back to them. No one wants to camp on a beach full of litter right? So take part in responsible travel and pick it up and take it out to where we will find somewhere suitable to dispose of them.

Small things – Big Changes

These are just a small number of easy things you can do while on tour with us in Nepal or anywhere in the world to benefit the environment and encourage responsible travel. If you love a place, you want to be able to go back and see it in all it’s beauty again, you don’t want it to disappear. So don’t let it. The environmental problems are big but the things you can do are small and small things can lead to big changes!

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