We’re just going to come right out and say it (again): Every responsible traveler should carry a water purification system if they want to be healthy, thrifty, and environmentally responsible. That’s why we love our SteriPEN.
The shocking reality is that more than 8% of the earth’s population still doesn’t have access to safe drinking water. However, in much of the developed world (ie where most travelers come from) bottled water is no better than tap water which is treated and safe to drink to begin with. Yet bottled water costs up to 2,000 times more than tap water.
The environmental cost is even higher with millions of pounds of plastic bottles dumped into the trash annually. Furthermore, the production of all those plastic bottles and the act of transporting them consumes tens of millions of barrels of oil a year in the US alone.
According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, global sales of bottled water increased 4.1% from 2010 to 2011. Many of you have probably ditched bottled water when you’re at home. However, when we travel to places with unsafe tap water (which includes some of the most compelling places on earth), our needs and behaviors change.
Take us, for example
We recently completed day 1,900 of our Trans-Americas Journey road trip. Well more than half of that time has been spent in areas where it’s not safe for us to drink the tap water. Conservatively speaking, let’s say we purchased four liters of bottled water per day for 1,000 of our days on the road. In this scenario we would have spent around $4,000 on water and thrown away at least 4,000 plastic bottles. Lined up end to end, that’s a trash trail nearly a mile long.
Luckily, we have a SteriPEN.
Good for your travel budget and the environment
SteriPEN was one of our very first product partners and we’ve been using their water purifiers since day one of our Journey. SteriPENs use UV light to kill any living contaminant in water and can purify a liter of water in 60 seconds with no additives, no after taste, no tossed plastic bottles. Also, no need to buy bottled water. If we hadn’t been using our SteriPEN we estimate that we would have spent at least $4,000 on bottled water so far. Subtract the price of our SteriPEN (US$90) and the cost of the batteries (about US$0.10/liter) and, so far, we’ve saved more than $3,500 by using our SteriPEN instead of buying bottled water as we travel.
|Even better, we have not added 4,000 empty plastic water bottles to the billions that are discarded every year. And if you think those bottles are all being turned into lovely new Patagonia fleeces, think again.
The International Bottled Water Association admits that just 31% of the 85 million bottles of water which are consumed in the United States every day are recycled (itself an energy inefficient, polluting process). That recycling percentage number dips into the single digits or disappears altogether in developing countries where so many of us spend time traveling.
And what happens to unrecycled plastic bottles in Calcutta or Cartagena? We’ve all seen (and smelled) them burning on trash heaps, slowly releasing toxins into the air.
Though we love our SteriPEN, it’s not perfect. It failed on us once when we were camping near Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (it was below freezing and we believe that conditions were too cold for the batteries). And though the company says fresh batteries will purify 50 liters, we don’t usually get through that much water before we have to change the batteries.
And speaking of batteries, we’re aware that throwing out our spent batteries is an environmental hazard. If you can’t reconcile yourself to that check out the SteriPEN Pure + which can be charged via USB. It’s what we’re using now, so no more discarded batteries.
Be part of the bottled water solution
Another reason travelers need to commit to sustainable and money-saving alternatives to the financially and environmentally unsustainable cycle of buying and tossing plastic bottles water bottles? The places you want to travel to are starting to make it harder to get your hands on bottled water. For example, Grand Canyon National Park, where our SteriPEN easily purified enough water to fuel our hikes to the canyon floor from both rims, banned the sale of plastic water bottles in early 2012.
Be A Responsible Traveler, Buy a SteriPEN:
SteriPEN has supplied various models of their water purification wands for us to use and review
totally agree! we also had the steripen and it was super useful, especially on our everest base camp trek, but really it was awesome everywhere.
Thanks for this. We are going to be traveling to Asia this year with our children and the thought of buying bottled water makes me cringe. I’ve thought about the SteriPen but want to be sure my kids are drinking good water. Nice to hear that you are happy with it!
Love the SteriPen and so glad to see other travelers using it! I tested it out in India (pretty much the ultimate test I think!) and it worked well the whole time! :)
I’ve heard of SteriPen but never considered using it. I’m currently in Egypt, drinking bottled water constantly, and am very bothered by the plastic waste I’m generating. I’ll probably end up buying a SteriPen before my next venture into the developing world. And I’ll be sure to keep a bottle of water on hand, just in case the batteries fail. :)
I haven’t tried the SteriPEN, but I have had a bad experience on the road with contaminated water. This is a good reminder to travelers to be careful with their drinking water as I somehow came home from Portugal with a parasite. A SteriPEN sounds like it would have prevented this.
[…] Karen (Trans-Americas Journey) knows how to get safe, drinkable water with a SteriPEN. […]
Good idea. It surprises me how many communities in the US alone do not have very good recycle programs. Apparently, there is this spot out in the Pacific somewhere north of Hawaii where there is centrifugal swirl (like a toilet bowl) that contains this big heap of floating garbage from the world that just stays there. Makes me sick thinking about it.
Wow, that’s insane! I’ve never thought about buying one of these, but it definitely sounds worth it. I don’t drink bottled water at home, never really understood that when tap water is just fine.
We just tried something like this when we were in Europe because I find it nauseating how much plastic bottle waste we use when traveling.
Products like the SteriPen are great, but kind in mind the fact that they only purify, and do not filter contaminants such as heavy metals or pesticides. However, UV purifiers are effective against pathogens such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
The problem is filters such as Pur or Katydin don’t eliminate these items either since they are chemical compounds dissolved in the water, not something that has a shape–even if that shape is only microns big. These filters do sometimes lower the amount of exposue to these compounds, but they don’t eliminate them either.
I LOVE my steri pen! I have used it everywhere! It is really the greatest thing ever. I bring rechargable batteries as well so I never run out of power. I always show it off to other travellers in hopes of converting them as well
I have to confess, I drink a lot of bottled water in countries where the tap water is unsafe (although none in developed countries). I’ve always tried to suppress my guilt by saying it’s for my health. I now wish I hadn’t read this post because all that guilt has rushed back up to the surface!! :)
Hey guys – you discovered our post to the same effect just recently, but somehow I was not aware of the SteriPEN until a couple of months ago. I hope we can pick one up soon and use it in Mexico as you suggest. So important!!! Thanks for this post, it’s really useful!
I bought mine for environmental reasons and used it nearly every day in Central America.
We totally need to get our hands on one of these!
I saw Dani of the GlobeTrotterGirls talking about these recently, and your article has just clarified that I need one of these in my life :D Great post!
Been wanting a steripen for a while now. Might be the time to fork out but luckily we have been travelling in some civilized countries. Wish we had it in Turkey and Egypt though!
I’ve heard good things about the SteriPen but haven’t had the chance to use one. This definitely sounds like a good investment. This technology should be made available on a larger scale to allow people to get access to clean drinking water around the world.
This is really cool I’ve not heard of this one. We carried a purifier through AFrica with us and it was so so handy. But it was much more labour intensive than this. Great share
These are amazing, I’ve been hearing more and more about UV purification. I think its great to see a company out and proving a product and obviously testing it in every environment from cold to hot. I also like the company coming out with a steriPen that doesn’t require throw away batteries. It’s truly impressive what we can do with motivation, thanks for the great post.
[…] https://trans-americas.com/2012/05/drink-responsibly-steripen/ […]
I totally agree with what you said. The problem in bottled water damaging the environment is very serious. I think that having your own water filter is much better because you’ll be able to save a lot of money too. Thanks for sharing this article.