Drinking water without plastic bottles for your journey

It’s time for my summer journey to the Mediterranean Sea! I like relaxing and uncomplicated holidays when I pass my time snorkelling and doing watersports, laying on the beach and eating Mediterranean culinary delights.

If I had to name one aspect of the holidays where we see a lot of waste, I’d say drinking water. That’s the topic of the following text. Because concerning drinking water, you will often see and taste a different water quality during your journey.

Why should you think about drinking water when you are on a holiday trip?

Cool, fresh water flows 24/7 out of my tap at home. In the most Mediterranean countries too. However chlorine in this tap water or simply the fear of getting ill leads most tourists to the supermarket, where they buy bottled water and huge plastic canisters. A few years ago in Italy I even used that water to brush my teeth or to wash some salad. But even when you only use bottled water to drink it, a giant bunch of waste accrues.

Moreover, this water has been transported long ways and is more costly than tap water. Water in plastic bottles tastes not good and it may contain noxious substances because of its packaging.

To protect both your health and the environment it’s a good idea to filtrate respectively sterilize tap water (or water from unknown sources e.g. on a hiking) tour before drinking it.

A person drinks roughly 2 litres of water every day, in a seven days journey everyone needs at least 14 litres of water. A family with four members needs 56 litres of water per week (less when the children are younger)! The waste problem which arises when you cover this water demand with bottled water is obvious.

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Bottled water is not aestehetic, heavy to carry and costly – not to mention its environmental impact

Different beverages than water (in glass bottles) aren’t an option for me, because they are less healthy. Most of the fruit juices, lemonades etc. are processed and contain too much sugar. In most of the Mediterranean holiday destinations beverages in glass bottles are harder to find than a needle in a haystack. Except for alcoholic ones. Unfortunately, you can’t drink them all day long.

Water sterilization

Equipment to treat water is available in camping stores. There are many different ways to treat water, and it depends on your plans which ones are suitable for you.

In Greece I sterilized water by boiling it off. Afterwards, the water tasted still strange, but when I made tea of it, it was drinkable. Boiling off water needs some time and electric energy, but no additional machine. I didn’t get an illness when I used this method. The disadvantage was the taste of the water.

Pills like Micropur (Katadyn) often have to lay a certain time in the water to be effective. Because of the wasteful packaging they were not a sustainable option for me.

You can also find mechanical water filters, who clean the water with activated carbon and different other filter layers. They can improve the taste of the water. However if you want to buy a durable filter, it’s costly: A product with 20 years of service life (Katadyn Pocket) is online available for € 345,00 [1]. In the camping shop I found another mechanical filter (<100 €), which cold only filter 1.100 litres of water before being scrap. That wasn't sustainable enough for me. If it is possible to buy water filters which can work for 20 years, why should you buy one which is dead after only three years of daily use?

Mechanical water filters filter particles, bacteria and microorganism. They can make the taste of water better. So they are perfect for camping holidays and longer hiking tours. I usually filter tap water in my holidays.

UV-water sterilizers are lightweight pens which free the water within a few minutes of bacteria, virus and microorganisms. They are also used for tap water and are a more modern technology than the sterilization with chlorine.Unclear water should be filtered before using the UV-sterilizer. They need electric energy, some models use batteries. But I looked for a sterilizer which can be loaded directly at the plug socket or at a solar panel. This saves waste and costs for batteries.

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My UV-sterilizer – recently bought (Steripen Pure+)

My UV-sterilizer treats up to 2500 litres and it needs a bit more than 1,5 minutes to treat one litre of water. It is only 15 cm long and easy to handle. The only disadvantage is for now the country of origin (China). I always try to avoid these long transport ways. However, the packaging is smaller than the one of other models and the charging without batteries is another plus factor.

Which method is the most suitable for you?

People which are going for a trip in the wilderness or in backcountries might have to filter unclear water. A mechanical filter is more suitable for them than the other methods because it filters particles too.

But if you only want to filter clear water from bacteria, a UV-sterilizer might be a good idea.

In the following week, I will check out for you how well the UV-sterilizer works. Till then I wish everybody who is going on a trip too: Have a safe journey!

Where are you going and how is the water quality there? Which filter method do you use, if necessary? I look forward to your comments!

[1] https://www.katadyn.com/de/de/89-2010000-katadyn-pocket

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