Hi, so for the first week of my 6 months challenge, i decided that I should stop buying plastic bottles. Therefore this post will discuss the alternatives to buying bottled water and give you different options to reduce your impact on the environment and drink healthy water.
6 months challenge – week 1, no more plastic bottles
Living in Thailand, tap water is considered by the majority not safe to drink (honestly i did not test my water to find out but most of the people don’t drink it despite the fact that, at least in Bangkok, Metropolitan Waterworks Authority certifies that tap water is safe to drink.) Here I will assume it is not safe, if you drink tap water in Thailand without any filter please let a comment below. I won’t discuss here all the disadvantages of buying bottle water (from creating waste to water contamination by chemicals from plastic).
note: I understand that some plastic bottles are recycled (or more downcycled) by people who make a living of it. However, too many of them end up in the ocean. Also, as far as I know, Thailand does not approve recycled plastic for food usage. So plastic recycled is either shipped overseas or downcycled for other usage.
solution chosen to replace plastic bottles
After reviewing alternative options (see the details below), i opted to get my water delivered by sprinkle. It is very convenient. They deliver big tanks (about 19 liters) of water to your door. I leave the empty tank in front of my door when leaving for work in the morning and I have a full one instead when I come back home. They reuse the tanks and their were already serving my building so no additional trip for them. I ordered online, buying a year worth of water coupons in advance. Sprinkle gives you a free rechargeable water pump with your first subscription. (you can also buy a water cooler like this if you want to be more convenient without forgetting the fact that bottled water is less regulated than tap water…)
note: sprinkle is using reverse osmosis treatment to make the water safe to drink. There is some concern that this results in water with low minerals, which may not be healthy on a medium or long term. I have not researched that any further. Many other alternatives use reverse osmosis as well. I will do more research and write an article on water remineralization later on.
while doing my research, i found many other alternative options. so please find more details below. Please also feel free to comment if you want to share other alternative options.
commercial water filters
I didn’t find any zero waste filters yet (I’ll update you if I do) but an option is the big Berkey water filter. They do deliver in Thailand (and all Asia as well). The replaceable Berkey filters inside will last for 23000 liters of water, so you shouldn’t have to replace them before 10 years (3 liters of water per person per day for 2 people). Unfortunately, these replaceable parts cannot be recycled…
I used to have an amway espring filter but it generates much more waste than the berkey option. The big filter cartridge need to be replaced every year. There are plenty of other filter options available, i may add more later.
Water refill station
An alternative is to use the water refill station that you can find in many condominiums or around minimarts, markets… I haven’t used them for a while but if you plan to use them I would recommend the following: choose one that looks well maintained and cleaned. Prefer one that is in a clean environment (not next to garbage dump or big intersection for example). And finally choose one that you see people using regularly.
note: these don’t seem to be well controlled or regulated. There have been numerous reports in the news indicating that some are not maintained properly. It also depends where there water is coming from. If they use clean tap water, then it should be safe.
safe water on the go
What about getting drinking water when you travel without buying bottled water? Cheap restaurants in Thailand will usually provide free drinking water (sometimes you have to help yourself though: ). Better restaurants or hotels may make it more difficult though most of the time, employees will be able to help you if you explain your actions. (tea is usually an option in that case or get some smoothies that they will put in your own glass).
you could also buy a water filter bottle such as this. That way you can filter any water you don’t completely trust. The filter lasts one year or 640 refills so here again, not much waste generated. Another option is the sawyer mini. They have different options that can be adapted to almost any system (plastic bottle, hydration pack for sport people, squeezing water in a safe recipient…). These are just 2 options of the many available…
DIY water filter
you can search on google and you will find plenty of Do It Yourself water filter system. Click here to see some DIY water filters. I would consider this option more as an emergency option (while trekking and lost for example…). If at all possible, it is still advised to boil the water (several minutes should be fine, making a fire can also be necessary to make charcoal if you don’t have any with you). The piece of fabric can be replaced by cotton, coffee filter, wood or grass packed together. if the water is not clean enough after the first pass, you can filter it again.
Thanks for still being with me. I hope this post has been helpful and help reduce bottled water consumption, please comment below with your ideas/suggestions/questions…