Horseback Mongolia's customers and teams used more than 35,000 plastic bottles during the 2018 season. This is a shocking figure that made us think further about our major direct impact on the environment. To limit this and act more ecologically, we found a solution: remove plastic water bottles and use 10L Katadyn filters to provide drinking water throughout the trips. A solution that will be first tested during the 2019 season and put into effect from 2020.
In summer 2018, the Horseback Mongolia agency continued its development by welcoming for the first time more than 2000 customers. As a collateral effect, the consumption of plastic water bottles during the tours increased as well. The calculation is simple: 2000 customers and 1000 local companions consuming an average of 1 bottle per day, on an average 12-days trip, we can estimate more than 36,000 plastic bottles. The figure is scary, and this winter has led us to think about the greener solutions we could bring to achieve less or no longer consume bottled water. The problem in Mongolia is complicated, outside the capital, it is very difficult to get water, and only in the small shops on the road is where we can find bottled water. Even the water of yurt camps is not filtered and is not fit for consumption as is.
Our research led us to discover the Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10 L Filter, which seemed like one of the best options. The results were convincing, and during the tours, we do not lack a source of water because of the wells, rivers, lakes, and water of yurt camps. So it would be enough to filter the water on our scale and provide it to the travelers to whom we will offer on their arrival to Horseback Mongolia.
The first tests were convincing, and during our annual guides training, the teams were receptive to the waste problem in Mongolia. Some seemed still a little chilly about the proposed solution: does it really work? Are there any risks of contamination? These are the most recurring questions we have encountered.
After we reassured about the quality of the Swiss brand, which is a reference brand in the water filtration field, we decided to offer this option to our guides and drivers who volunteer for the first year. And we ordered a total of 38 filters from Switzerland.
Now, it's up to us to educate travelers about this problem and to explain the reasons that led us to change the way we operate. Bottled water certainly reassures, but is no better than the water we filter, and we must all take a more responsible approach to our consumption and therefore to travel. We are hoping for a real positive return from travelers this summer before generalizing the system to all our teams in 2020. Of course, we will continue to provide bottled water to travelers who do not want to drink filtered water.
Horseback Mongolia is really proud to be an example in Mongolia in the generalization of the use of water filters for all tours, and, once it is not customary, we would be very happy that our colleagues are borrowing the idea and to limit the overall impact of tourism on the environment.
To find out more about the Katady water filter, click here.