Sustainable Water Use on Scivi Tour – Small Act, Big Difference

Everyone talks a lot about sustainable tourism these days. We hear people, online press on the Internet mentioning it as if there’s a new trend has just emerged. Travel organisations nowadays start adopting this practice as a strategy in dealing with the new normal and catch up with the global changes. But is it really a new trend?

We don’t think so! Sustainable tourism is more than just a trend today. The travel and industry nowadays contributes 10.4% to the global GDP according to WTTC. During the UN General Assembly, Gloria Guevara, president & CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council said that: 

“Sustainable tourism is a way of travel that, while it offers a unique and amazing experience to the traveller and connects people, it also protects our best assets, our nature, our culture, our communities, our history and our planet,”

As an educational tour organizer, we see there are so much work and effort on educating our consumers on the idea of sustainability and ways to do it. One of them is the sustainability in the water supply on our trip.

In this article, we will share some ideas that concern us in related to sustainable water supply.

Sustainable water use: refill or not to refill

Water is the essential supply when traveling. In the past, we provide water as a basic inclusion everyday on our tours and people are usually just happy with it. However, there is one problem: the more water we give, the more plastic bottles we consume. Besides, it is also hard for us to control the number of bottles thrown away. This somehow works against the core value and practice of the company. According to statistics, Vietnam ranked 17th among 109 countries that have a high level of plastic pollution in the world. In a country that has 95 billions of populations, each Vietnamese family dispose of at least one plastic waste per day. We’ll let you do the math.


Sustainability in Water Supply

The students and teachers will be provided at least two 500ml bottles of water every day to stay hydrated. This is our common practice. Let’s say we host a group of 30 people for 2 weeks can you can imagine the trash from drinking water alone can easily fill up on a third of a bus! On the other hands, changing behavior and protocol for a moving group is much more challenging than working on a small group at a fixed location, so here’s what we’ve done to practice the sustainable water use

Level 1: Limit the use of small bottle

500ml bottle is the most convenient size and that’s why its consumption volume is also on top of the list. By replacing small bottle by bigger (1.5L) bottle, we can reduce the number of plastic trash, while still maintaining the service level as well as the convenience of travelers. However, other than awareness effect, this move has very little meaning when it comes to sustainability.

Level 2: “Outlaw” the single-use plastic

With the agreement of teachers and tour leaders, we impose a “no single-use” plastic on tour. Participants are requested to bring their own bottles or reuse their bottles as much as they can. To ensure that this works in practice. We set up a refill station with 5-gallons drinking water on the bus, at the hotel lobby and at frequently visited places (for the case of a service-learning project, at the project site).

This can be bothersome to many, for example:

  • Travelers may have to bring their bottle all the times, and remember to refill water;
  • From an organizer side, it takes additional manpower to take care of the refill station, which increasing the cost as well as the workload. 
  • For hotel/project: it occupy their (sometimes very) limited space to setup the refill station. 
  • For a tour company, it creates more burden relating to drinking water/hydration matter.

But for educational purposes, we believe that it’s worth changing as there is no better way for students to practice a new habit while they are out of their routine. And sustainability in water supply can be a good start.

Challenging and recommendation

From an educational tour organiser perspective, we are facing so many challenges from both our customer’s mindset and logistics. Many travelers still think that water resource is not completely safe in Vietnam. That means people sometimes might get sick from the drinking water. With that thought in mind, many of our clients had refused to refill water from the water bottle dispenser. This is one of our challenges to fully implement the sustainable practice.

Logistic is also another challenge. As a daily basis inclusion, our duty is to make sure water is accessible everywhere we go to. Let’s take our house building project for an example. Water refill dispenser need to be available at three main locations: the building site, the hotel, and on the bus. This is our responsibility to ensure everyone meets their basic needs. However, for big projects with many participants, people consume water a lot faster than we can supply. This usually results in not having enough staff to provide water for the group. Besides, it can also slow down the work momentum in volunteers due to the labour work.

People who traveled with Scivi before know that we highly recommend our customers to have their own water bottle for refilling water and a canvas bag for storing. This however will be an inconvenient practice for someone, but we believe will take some effort and time to change eventually.

We also suggest our future clients from teachers, group monitors, and student supervisors to work with us in this matter. This not only fulfill our mission and core value of the company but also make a very impactful influence for our planet.

Sustainability is no rocket science

To conclude, our points is that sometimes convenience and sustainability cannot coexist together. We are living in a world where abundance is created for the sake of our convenience. Besides, we are lucky enough to have everything we need to sustain. However, if we know that our resources are scarce, and you cannot have more, then most likely you wouldn’t want to waste it.

Finally, sustainability is not building a rocket science, it is a simple act that makes a big difference. If you would like to know more about sustainability in water supply and sustainable plastic waste managment, read more here

If you want to share with us about your thoughts, please leave a comment below.


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