Plastic Avalanche: Bottled water in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal? Don’t become a part of the plastic waste problem.

Unless you are travelling with one of the large, Western trekking companies, you need to think about your drinking water. Right now.

Tap water is easily obtained in Tea Houses, but the last thing you want when on the trip of a lifetime is to come down with a stomach bug. Delicate western stomachs easily succumb to waterborne microbes, so precautions need to be taken.

In October 2022, I was trekking in the Khumbu (Everest) region of Nepal and was horrified by the number of trekkers that were hydrating on their trip by buying bottled water. Unfortunately, this is readily available from Tea Houses along the way. But come on people – how do you think it gets there? And why do you think it’s there? What happens to all the plastic bottles when you have drunk your fill?

These questions almost seem too easy to answer. People carry it, we buy it and it’s thrown away. The demand is something tourists and adventurers have created. We have now transferred our plastic problem to the beautiful mountain regions of Nepal; a habit we can rectify.


Water for sale in Nepal

Bottled water and other drinks for sale in a tea house.


I would have hoped most people trekking in Nepal are environmentally aware. Clearly there is a blind spot about this issue. Make no mistake here. If you are taking plastic into the mountains and not taking it out, or buying it while you are there and not taking it home, YOU are the problem.


Water being carried

Left: Porter carrying food supplies, Right: Porter carrying bottled water deep into the Khumbu for tourists.


Consider the above picture. This guy is carrying at least 48 one litre bottles of water. That is more than 50 kg payload. I saw others with even more! There is plenty of work for porters carrying food and goods up the trail but water is low value and extremely heavy. This thankless requirement can be stopped.

In the Sagarmatha National Park there are bins for the collection of rubbish at regular places along the trekking routes. What happens to the rubbish is not clear, but a far better solution is to not generate it in the first place. There are real and immediate solutions.


Rubbish collection point

Rubbish collection point along the trail.


The solution is oh so simple…

You need to carry some method to treat your own water. You can take tablets of course. These include the Katadyn Micropur tablets, Lifesystems Chlorine tablets and Lifesystems Chlorine Dioxide tablets.

There are various water filtration devices. I had a Steripen UV Water Purifier while I was in Nepal. Effective and simple to use on the move while trekking. You treat your water in the bottle. No chemicals or taste added to the water. USB rechargeable too, which is available in Tea Houses. In fact there are heaps of water treatment possibilities.

Learn more about the ways to safely treat your water here.

It is bewildering to me that it's the people who go to these beautiful areas to enjoy the natural scenery are the ones to be so ignorant when choosing what water to drink. Don’t let convenience be a factor in your enjoyment of Nepal. It is simple… DON’T BUY PLASTIC BOTTLES!

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