We are all cautious about what we consume while traveling (remember our chat from the Everybody Poops post!), and if you drink as much water as I do, you want to make sure it’s clean! I’m sure your first thought is bottled water, and you may have heard of iodine tablets and boiling water to sterilize it. While their can be benefits to these options, at OneSeed Expeditions, we take a different approach. We use SteriPEN.
What is SteriPEN and how does it work?
SteriPEN is water sanitization system that uses ultraviolet (UV) light technology to purify water and destry bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidia. UV purification works as the ultraviolet energy emitted by the light is absorbed by the cells of the microbe, preventing cell enzymes from ‘reading’ its DNA. Without intact DNA, microbes can’t reproduce to make you sick*.
Why does OneSeed use SteriPEN over other methods?
UV sanitization is fast. It can purify 16oz. (0.5L) in just 48 seconds; 32oz. (1.0L) in just 90 seconds. Unlike iodine tablets, SteriPEN does not alter the taste or any other component of water. More importantly, SteriPEN is critical to OneSeed’s environmental and sustainable policies. Bottled water is highly detrimental to the environment in the Himalaya as the bottles are very often not brought down from the trail, causing a large trash problem.
Boiling water is an option most people think of to purify water, but OneSeed does not boil water to sanitize it for several reasons. The main source of fuel is wood which is in limited supply making it difficult to achieve the appropriate boil to kill bacteria and depletes the forests on the mountains.
Our Commitment to the Environment and Sustainability
OneSeed Expeditions is committed to exploring the places we visit but doing so responsibly with as little detrimental impact as possible. The guesthouse we stay in are small, locally owned businesses that are carefully selected to meet our criteria for sustainability. Most of them use sustainable practices such as small-plot gardens, compost, water conservation or rain catchment methods, waste management, and using non-wood fuel sources. We are committed to preserving the natural beauty of the places we visit for those to come after us.
What you can do to help:
1. Use reusable products!
- BPA free water bottles (I have had my Nalgene for seven years and I’m just breaking her in!)
- Reusable coffee mugs
- Camp silverware rather than one time use plastic silverware
- A washcloth instead of towelettes
- Refillable toiletries containers
- Reusable food containers etc…
2. Alter your bathing habits
A 30 minute hot shower. Really? I’ll admit when I was a teenage girl learning to shave my legs, showers extended far past an acceptable time limit and my ankles still ended up with nicks. I’ve since become much more proficient at both. I’ve even had boyfriends say I shower faster than them. What can I say. I like water as a natural resource and would like to keep it around for a while.
In the States, we take water for granted because it is clean, easily accessible, and cheap. Not so much the case around the world. Many places do not have access to clean water, it’s expensive, and hot water can be out of the question. A hot shower or bath can feel amazing and take off the toil of a tough day, but on the trail, live like you are in the back country (ps…you are!). I’ve been guilty of not showering for several days on end where showers aren’t readily available. A little wash cloth bath or bucket of cold water, a hat to cover my blonde hair that gets greasy at the drop of a hat, and some deodorant and I’m good to go. Or at least I’m generally with people that are as stinky (or stinkier) than I am. It’s a bonding thing! Go with it!
If all else fails, baby powder yourself. It is incredibly absorbent, soaking up moisture and oil like no other. It acts as a dry shampoo for hair, a deodorant, absorb some extra moisture etc… (it’s also great if you experience any chaffing while trekking – just rub a little into those spots (generally your heels, where clothing seams have the opportunity to get sweaty and rub on your skin constantly-think sports bras, shorts waist bands etc…) to help prevent chafing.
3. Limit your need for technology
Chargers may be available along the routes, but other than a camera, limit those distractions. While traveling, I generally prefer to eliminate as much technology as I can.
- Phones – I generally have one with me, but only turn it on in case of emergency. Mainly it’s because I’m cheap and international phone calls are ridiculously expensive, but it’s also because I don’t need the outside distractions. Skyping from an Internet cafe is a much better alternative for calls.
- Internet – Unless I’m gone a long time and have to update people/post photos of the amazing things I’m doing, I skip it. The world will be there when I get back
- Hair dryer/straightener/curling iron – I have never brought a hair dryer on an international/backcountry trip. I’m badass enough to be on that kind of adventure, so my hair isn’t the focus (and I kind of like when it gets wild!)
- Computer - I don’t bring a computer unless it’s needed for a specific purpose aka I’m living somewhere else for months on end and need to be able to access my hard drive, avoid putting personal information on public computers etc…A few weeks away from home (and your email)? You will love the freedom!
- iPod – Generally I skip it. I prefer to write, read, talk to people, be aware of my surroundings etc…
Do what is right for you, but don’t be the tech geek you are at home. If you do bring technology, don’t use more power than necessary! (ie don’t leave your phone plugged in overnight if it’s fully charged!)
Read more about our commitment to sustainability in on our website here.
You can find out more about SteriPEN or buy your own here.
If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, please submit them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.