[Kenya - Gentle Tourism?]

I used to believe my traveler's footprint was relatively minor especially when considering my low budget modis operandum. I was wrong. I now refer to my excursions by the total number of plastic water bottles I used while there. My trip to India was a 112 liter plastic bottle journey. I was there for 28 days and used an average of 4 liter sized water bottles a day. (Water Bottle Usage Worldwide)

Getting access to clean water is a major issue for everyone. In Kenya I resigned myself to the daily rising count of plastic water bottles. Half way through my 2 week trip the count was up to 28 pint sized plastic water bottles. What was the alternative? Did one exist here in Kenya?

With this rising bottle count constantly on my mind I journeyed to Sasaab Lodge in Samburu in north central Kenya. The hosts Ali and Tony greeted us with a cool cloth to wash the red dirt off our tired hot faces and then handed each of us a steel water bottle filled with filtered water. I cringed at accumulating yet another useless item most likely manufactured in China. My dismissive thoughts almost made me miss what our host said next.

"Feel free to refill your new water bottle as often as you need". Tony went on to explain. Sasaab gets all their drinking water from several large 18 liter recyclable water containers. Since they introduced the recyclable containers more than a year ago, they have gone from using approximately 200 - 500ml and 100 - 1 liter plastic water bottles a month to having no plastic water bottle waste at all. This is important because much of rural Kenya has no infrastructure to support the waste generated by travelers or their supporting lodges. Much of this waste must be trucked out or buried somewhere in the environment.

This beautiful lodge situated on the hillside above the Ewaso Nyiro river remains fixed in my mind as a special place not so much because of its location but because of the solutions it has created to the serious environmental issue of plastic water bottle usage.