Helping To Eliminate Single-Use Plastics In Mongolia

Gandan Monastery Ulaanbaatar
Gandan Monastery Mongolia
March 29, 2022
Uuliin Nuur Community Project Ulaanbaatar
Uuliin Nuur Community Project Ulaanbaatar
May 26, 2022
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Helping To Eliminate Single-Use Plastics In Mongolia

It’s easy to feel skeptical about companies in the travel and tourism sector claiming ‘green’ credentials for profit. At Eternal Landscapes (EL), we are a small, specialist tour operator without stakeholders or investors, limited by our resources—both time and economic. Despite these limitations, we strive to make responsible decisions. While we may not have all the answers or get everything right, we believe that as a tour company, we have the power to educate and influence our team and inspire our guests. One of the ways we do this is focusing on how we can help to eliminate single-use plastics in Mongolia.

As part of our (Mini) Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge, we highlight six ways in which our guests can help us to eliminate single-use plastics in Mongolia. One of those steps focuses on the use of plastic bottles.

In Mongolia, due to its challenging infrastructure, a majority of families do not have access to drinking water from a tap. Instead, there is a countrywide network of water supply stations where families come to collect their water. Here at EL we have never bulked purchased disposable plastic water bottles for our guests on our Mongolia tours. Instead, we have always provided two 20 litre water containers in each of our tour vehicles which we then refill taking fresh drinking water from these water supply stations. For added security, we provide a Steripen Adventurer UV water filter which our guests use to neutralise their water.

Using reusable water bottles - helping to eliminate single use plastics in Mongolia

Using Reusable Water Bottles – Helping To Eliminate Single-Use Plastics In Mongolia

We have partnered with Water-To-Go to offer our guests filtered water bottles. The filter in their 75 cl bottles equates to 400 single-use plastic bottles. Water-To-Go’s 3-in-1 filtration system eliminates over 99.9% of microbiological contaminants, including viruses and bacteria, from any non-salt water source. The filter also removes harmful contaminants while retaining beneficial minerals like sodium and magnesium, providing the healthiest water possible. These filters have been independently tested by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK) and BCS Laboratories (USA).

EL guests can purchase Water-To-Go bottles at an exclusive 15% discount. Additionally, 15% of each purchase using the discount code is donated to buy Plan Vivo Foundation carbon certificates, supporting the Plan Vivo Mongolian Nomad Project in partnership with the Mongolian Society of Range Management.

Helping To Eliminate Single-Use Plastics In Mongolia – Our Areas for Improvement

In the EL office, we use 1-2 recyclable 20L water dispensers per week, sourced from a local family-run shop. However, we do provide cold drinks for our guests and team, which include a mix of cans and plastic bottles. Despite our emphasis on bringing reusable water bottles and promoting our partnership with Water-To-Go in our Pre-Departure Guidelines and Packing List, not all guests adhere to this, leading some to purchase bottled water. Additionally, we cannot control the purchase of other drinks sold in plastic bottles, such as soft drinks.

A major issue in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, is the limited number of companies undertaking sorting and recycling. Outside Ulaanbaatar, waste management is even more limited. However, local projects like Ecosoum in Bulgan Aimag are focusing on waste reduction and management. We are establishing a recycling system in our UB office with separate bins for paper, plastic, and cans, which we can then transfer to nearby recycling bins. For plastic bottles and cans bought on tour, we aim to set up a system to crush and bring them back to the office for recycling.

A recycling point in Ulaanbaatar - Using reusable water bottles - helping to eliminate single use plastics in Mongolia

Helping To Eliminate Single-Use Plastics In Mongolia – The Bigger Picture

According to statista.com, in 2019:

“The production of plastics totaled around 368 million metric tons worldwide. The incredible versatility of this group of materials accounts for the continued growth in production year after year. In tandem with that growth, the market value of plastics also continues to grow.”

We’re a small company, but with small steps, we are working on making our own corner of the travel industry a better place. Managing our usage of plastic bottles and working with Water-To-Go are part of those small steps. Transparency is as important as action, and our future goal is to publish our progress each year. For now, we invite you to join this larger travel philosophy and purchase a Water-To-Go bottle.

An image showcasing the partnership beteen Water-to-Go and Eternal Landscapes Mongolia

Working together with Water-to-Go to help #beatplasticpolution

For those in North America or the UK, use the discount code EL15 on checkout. If you’re elsewhere in the world let us know and we’ll speak to Water To Go to see what they can arrange.

For more on our Responsible Tourism philosophy – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/responsible-tourism-mongolia/

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I'm Jess Brooks, the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia and the voice behind EL's blog posts. For more than a decade, since 2006, I've been based in Mongolia, working closely with my beloved Mongolian team to advocate for a tourism approach that brings about positive change.. What sets our blog apart is our deep understanding of Mongolia—our home. Unlike content from influencers or creators, our posts prioritise authenticity and firsthand knowledge as guiding principles.
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