There are a countless number of individuals who are environmentally responsible at home in their local communities. They use a refillable water bottle in their daily lives and wouldn’t even think about buying one time use water bottles. For the most part this responsible local behavior does not translate to travel.
Airports have started to invest in refilling stations, and although sparse and sometimes hard to find, this is a step in the right direction. When we describe our mission as an organization to people, many individuals respond with their delight in having water stations in the airports. We applaud airports and universities for weening themselves off of plastic, however, this is only the beginning.
This past weekend one such individual pointed out this very thing. To her I replied “and then what did you do when you left the airport?” She thought about it and said, “I bought plastic water bottles to fill my canteen.” This is not the fault of the tourist, but a lack of infrastructure for responsible tourism. She would have gone to a refilling station had she known where to get quality water. She wants to be a responsible tourist. She just needs to ability (that infrastructure) to connect her local attitude with that of her responsible travel attitude.
There is a naturally occurring phenomena that seems to happen when one goes on vacation and that is the idea of divorcing oneself from responsible environmental action while outside one’s own local community. Convenience rues the day, where individuals do not want to be bothered with thinking about how to travel, after all they are on vacation from their normal life. Distrust of other water sources outside of our own is another issue at play while traveling. We tend to believe that our water is good and everyone else’s is bad.
Individuals traveling in the United States need to be able to trust other sources just as their own. Advertising and marketing by groups have caused us to all question everyone outside our own community’s water practices. The fact of the matter is that all public water in the United States is more heavily regulated than that of the water that comes from plastic bottles.
We would again, like to applaud universities and airports around the country for making this great step forward and with your help we can connect these bastions of progress to form a seamless Responsible Tourism Infrastructure.