What we’re doing about the plastic problem

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Did you know plastic packaging accounts for about half of the plastic waste in the world? Read more surprising stats on plastic use and how we are leading the way in eliminating its use on our treks.

Fast facts: How big is our plastic problem?

  • Humans buy around 1 million plastic bottles per minute.
  • Half a million straws are used in the world every day.
  • It is estimated that almost 10 million plastic bags are consumed worldwide per minute.
  • 79% of all the plastics ever produced have now been discarded. Only 21% of plastics are still in active use.
  • Each year, about 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean, with reports warning that there will be more plastic than marine life in the oceans by 2050.
  • By 2050, an estimated 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic.
  • Because plastic is long lasting and durable, most do not biodegrade; only certain types of plastic waste can be recycled. Plastic waste is therefore either destroyed, converted to fuel or energy via incineration or pyrolysis, disposed of in waste management systems or discarded where it ends up in the natural environment.
  • Single-use-plastics frequently do not make it to a landfill.

Worst plastic offenders

1. Plastic bags

2. Coffee cups and lids

3. Straws

4. Single-use bottles

Other offenders: balloons and their sticks and ribbons, chip and snack packets, food containers, plastic cutlery and sanitary products.

What can we do about it?

Making the switch from plastic to sustainable alternatives, as well as making responsible travel choices – such as bringing along a refillable water bottle, can make a positive investment in the future of our environment. Read these eight ways to avoid plastic when you travel.

Travel sustainably: how World Expeditions is eliminating plastic

Leading the way in responsible travel, our latest green initiatives in Nepal allow travellers to avoid the use of disposable and single-use plastic throughout their Nepal trip. The Kathmandu hotel we use has a water dispenser with potable water available to World Expeditions travellers to refill their reusable bottles, so that travellers aren’t contributing to the plastic problem in the poor, landlocked country.

“While water on the treks has been boiled and provided to trekkers for many years, we are delighted to totally eliminate the need for plastic bottles from the moment the client arrives at the hotel.”

“Providing our clients with access to potable water throughout their Nepal experience is the final step in giving our clients the confidence to know that they are travelling green in Nepal,” says World Expeditions Responsible Travel Manager, Donna Lawrence.

In addition to phasing out single-use plastic bottles, our Nepali kitchen crew are trained to minimise plastic waste in trek kitchens, which is especially important in remote regions, when responsible disposal becomes more difficult.  We minimize the use of plastic by buying fresh produce from local farmers whenever possible, which has the dual benefit of creating income for subsistence communities and reducing the need of packaging and excess plastic.

Our credentials in eco tourism in Nepal are unrivalled:  We’re proud to follow the seven principles of  Leave No Trace on all our treks and we’re the founding partner of the 10 Pieces environmental initiative, which encourages trekkers to pick up 10 pieces of plastic or paper (or more!) to help reduce the litter problem through their collective effort.

Looking for more inspiration?

Download our free Thoughtful Traveller ebook and learn how you can be a responsible traveller.  Read our latest initiatives in Nepal where we’ve gone plastic-free!

Do you choose a travel company based on their sustainable practices? Let us know in the comments below.


Sources: Cleaseas.org, Earthday.org, Report from Science Advances, 2018 Outlook report from UN Environment.

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