Avoiding plastic bottles in India



I’ve always thought that there’s no greater example of the collective impact we can have – as travellers – than the plastic water bottle.

Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. Depending where in the world you’re looking at, plastic bottles are in stores, restaurants, on the ground, in rivers, in oceans, besides roads and railway tracks, hidden in mounds behind guesthouses, being burnt on the street, and being eaten by holy cows.

When travelling – especially avoiding plastic bottled water becomes a challenge and a mission: one that, together as travellers we can make a big impact on.

During my recent travels through Iran and India, I had the opportunity to test a couple of solutions for how we can avoid plastic bottled water when travelling.

The Steripen + Re-fillable Water Bottle

In the past, I’ve tried to use a re-fillable water bottle and get that refilled wherever possible, but sometimes filtered water is not easily available. I’ve had many a restaurant try to charge me for bottled water instead, insisting that filtered water is not good for tourists (it is fine).

Before setting off on my trip this time, I got hold of a SteriPEN UV Water Purifier. It’s a small pen-like device that works as a UV water purifier to remove biological contaminants.

The “Adventurer” model that I had is especially good for trekking and I got to test it first hand on several of the rivers and streams in Ladakh, India, as well as on tap water in Iran and India.

How does it work?

Steripen simply uses the power of ultraviolet light to make water safe to drink. It’s the same technology used by many bottled water manufacturers and large cities across the USA, Europe and Asia.

How did I like the Steripen?

I found the steripen super handy on my trip – both for filtering tap water when filtered water was not available to refill my bottle with (which was the case often in Ladakh, India) and also for use when trekking. I had great fun refilling my bottle from streams in Ladakh, and then just zapping the water with the pen to kill any bacteria. Being able to drink straight out of the hills felt great!

It was also a great conversation starter with people who were curious that I was drinking water seemingly straight from the tap or stream!

The steripen is small, and light so it even fits into a coat pocket making it easy to keep handy. It works immediately and has no effect on the taste of the water either.

The one challenge I had was the batteries running out after about 4 weeks. Since the Steripen I had does not use “standard” batteries it was really hard to find replacements. I would definitely advise to take a spare set of batteries with you if you’ll be travelling for more than a week or two.

Last but not least.. I did not get sick! Or even so much as a dodgy stomach. I will definitely be using my Steripen in the future.


What’s your favourite way of purifying water or avoiding bottled water when travelling?

About Ellie Cleary – Soul Travel Blog

Creating positive impact through travel. 

Former hotelier turned travel blogger, Ellie is the founder of Soul Travel Blog, a blog that looks to turn travel in to a win-win equation: benefiting the destination as well as the traveller. Ellie is always on the lookout for the next sustainable or responsible hotel, tour company or destination to share with her readers.

After 5 years working in the hotel industry in her hometown of London, UK, Ellie moved to the Netherlands to work for Booking dot com from 2010-2016. There she headed up their Global Accounts team, managing relationships and contracting with major international hotel chains.

In 2016 the call to do something related to responsible travel became impossible to resist, and since July 2016 Ellie is location independent. Alongside running the award-winning Soul Travel Blog, Ellie works as a freelance writer and consultant for sustainable travel brands. When not travelling or writing about travel, Ellie enjoys yoga, a good book, and scenic train journeys.

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