When travelling in far flung places we will not buy water in plastic bottles. NO its just wrong. Instead we sterilize our own using a Steripen but when a bottle refill service is offered we will use that instead as we want to support and encourage such fine ventures.
Plastic rubbish in and around Leh is a real problem. Plastic lasts for centuries, doesn’t rot and is inedible. Burning it at best smells bad and adds to the green house effect, at worst is lethal. In short plastic cannot be easily disposed of. Plastic waste requires special disposal facilities which Leh does not have. Most plastic trash ends up dumped in the mountains despoiling this beautiful and fragile environment. Every bit of plastic rubbish you create becomes part of that problem.
If you don’t want to leave a pile of everlasting trash behind you, here are some ways to reduce your rubbish
Water – don’t buy water in plastic bottles get your bottle refilled. Boiled, filtered water refills can be got from the Woman’s Alliance, Ladakh Ecological Development Group LEDeG, Dzomsa and some other places. You can pick up a map from LEDeG showing all of them or download it here.
Dzomsa. This shop refills your water bottle with boiled filtered water. They have shops on Old Fort Road and Main Street and maybe one more (though they are not all open out of season). Refills cost 7 rupees so its a bargain.They also do dried apricots in paper bags.Image by Ajay Tallam
Those of you traveling to Arambol in India this year might be interested to know that you don’t have to buy endless plastic bottles of water. Go to Double Dutch Restaurant and get your water bottle refilled with safe, clean filtered water for a fraction of the cost – saving money and the environment.
Refill your water bottle from the water cooler in the square by the clock tower. It tastes good, is indeed cool and there is no charge. We treated ours with our stripes.
The journey to Kaza is one of the most impressive I have ever been on. The narrow road crawls its way through the Spiti Valley a fantastical landscape of rivers and spectacular mountins, the highest still snow covered, the foothills swathed in grass and alpine flowers. There are plump cushions of sage colored foliage purple and yellow flowered, pink primulas with yellow edged petals, bright red pom poms on wiry stalks, a kind of stunning blue poppy, and dark maroon sprawling buttercup. But best of all there is hardly any rubbish.
Sadly the same can not be said for Kaza. Kaza is the administrative centre for Spiti – the main town, though town is rather overstating the case. There are some old traditional houses and some new hotels. It’s nothing special and what little charm the town has is ruined by the rubbish. Oh that place is dirty and plastic is to blame.
In the old days all rubbish was biodegradable. Biodegradable rubbish can go on the fields, be burnt, and be used to feed the animals or left to rot. Plastic of course doesn’t biodegrade in fact it pretty much lasts forever. It may fall apart or degrade but it only breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic. It is not edible – quite the reverse and thousands animal die each year from eating plastic. Burning it is problematic – it smells dreadful, releases toxic chemicals into the air, adds to global warming and results in poisonous ash which still has to be disposed of.
Plastic bags, crisp packets, and mineral water- you name it and it comes in a disposable plastic packaging. That’s disposable but indestructible throw away packaging. The age old methods of waste disposal cannot deal with this new kind of rubbish so it ends up dumped in fields and littering the streets.
Even if all that plastic it was collected up then what? There is no landfill site no waste incinerator. Such facilities are extremely expensive to install and maintain. Money that this region really doesn’t have.
Yet there is a really cheap solution to this problem STOP CREATING PLASTIC TRASH. As tourists we can at least do that to help preserve the environments we have come to visit.
Bottled water is the obvious place to start. Worldwide we, annually, use approximately 2.7 million tons of plastic to bottle water each year, and it accounts for approximately 2.5% of the world’s oil consumption. And it isn’t even that clean –visit www.wewanttap.com for details.
Thankfully the good folk atecosphere Kaza will help you. You can refill your water bottle with steralised water for free though they would like you to leave a donation.