Same Same but Different – Environmentalism
When I was in Thailand back in 2000 – 2001, one of the things that made me the saddest was the amount of plastic bottles used for water. Unfortunately, you can’t drink the water right out of the tap, so water has to be bought by the bottle. There are occasionally glass bottles, but usually they are plastic.
What happens to these bottles? That is a good question. If they are glass, they might be reused/recycled. If they are plastic they aren’t. They might get burned, they might get thrown in a dump somewhere. This is one positive thing that is happening in The Philippines at least, and perhaps in Thailand: The Solar Bottle Bulb…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOl4vwhwkW8
Before I left for Thailand I was determined to not be part of the problem. I did some investigation about portable water purifiers and I found out about SteriPEN http://www.steripen.com/classic Thanks to the sale at REI I got mine for $49.95. I used it my first day in Bangkok and many days since then and have had no intestinal distress.
The reason I have not used it everyday is because there is something new in town that I did not see my last time here: little stations around town where you can fill up your water bottles with reverse osmosis purified water. I am very thankful I brought a reusable water bottle with me.
The first time I tried it, I had no idea how much water would come out. I dropped in my 5 baht coin and it filled the bottle and kept on going until I realized there was a pause button. The next time I went, I deposited my 1 baht ($0.03 USD) and my bottle got all the way filled and I still had more that 1/2 a baht left. Basically, I filled my liter water bottle for 1 cent. It would cost 10-20 baht or 33-66 cents if I had gotten a non-recyclable plastic bottle of the same size…and then what would happen with the bottle?
The nice thing was is that both times I have gone to fill my bottle, there have been Thai people filling up. They haven’t been filling up little bottles like me though, they’ve been filling up huge jugs, and lots of them. From the looks of it 10 baht, instead of being the cost of 1 plastic water bottle, will now fill up what looked like about about 4 gallons, that’s 16 times more water. Clearly it’s economical, but it’s also reducing the amount plastic bottles in the waste stream.
I am in Chiang Mai, and I’m not sure if these water bottle fill up stations are standard throughout Thailand or not. A big thank you to the person responsible for getting these going. They are making a big difference.