Q & A with Chris MacKay, Co-Founder, Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), Seattle, WA, USA
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For 20 years I have run Crooked Trails, we take people overseas on hiking tours. The more I was out in the field the more I got sick and tired of seeing everyone carrying around disposable plastic water bottles. We require our own clients to come prepared to clean their own water. I asked two of my staff members how we might encourage other tour providers to do the same with their travelers. We came up with this campaign idea. I shared the idea with Kurt Kutay, the CEO of Wildland Adventures, he is also based here in Seattle. I have known Kurt for years, and I figured he was the best guy to use for a sounding board. He loved the idea and became my co-founder. We launched and also put up this campaign website. I am happy to say we now have about 100 tour companies participating.
The situation is truly a nightmare and getting worse. But I think we are finally reaching a tipping point where people can no longer disregard all the landfills around us and are worried about so much plastic waste. If you want the details, there is a great article from the BBC which puts it all in context: CLICK HERE
WHY DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION FOCUS ON PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES SPECIFICALLY?
Because this is an easy fix, it is really all about educating travelers, and it is a message my industry can get behind. Once you get used to a reusable water bottle, there is no going back to plastics, and you would be embarrassed to have one in your hand.
A little of all of that. Also, I think people do not know how to sterilize water and how easy it is. I told a friend who is a world traveler about the SteriPEN UV water filter, and she bought one before leaving for a trip to Ethiopia. Once she was back in the USA, she wrote to me and said: "Chris, I am mortified to think of the number of plastic water bottles I have used over the years. Never again, I am a convert." I hear that a lot.
Mainly it is word of mouth. Some people discover us when they do a Google search on this issue. We are a young non-profit with very limited funding, we can only do so much to promote our mission.
I have spoken to students at a few campuses. I also showed the film TAPPED at a theater in Seattle and had conversations with the audience. I dream one day of receiving a big grant so I could hire someone to do more of these events!
WHY IS SEATTLE A GOOD PLACE TO START UP AN EARTH-FRIENDLY BUSINESS OR NON-PROFIT?
There are many non-profits here because people truly care about protecting the environment and improving the quality of community life. For example, we have regulations against dumping compost waste into the garbage; if you do it, you will end up paying a fine! We live in a physically stunning place surrounded by trees, water and mountains. I think people are motivated to keep it beautiful.
Bottles with the TAP logo come from Liberty Bottleworks of Washington state. All their bottles are made of recycled metals in a zero waste factory. They even offset their shipping! The glaze they use on the bottles is unbelievably tough. So for every TAP bottle sold, 50 cents comes back to support our non-profit. If you are looking for a water bottle for yourself or to buy for a friend, make a purchase today and help us fund our mission!
CLICK HERE to order a TAP Bottle.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE MY READERS TO KNOW?
Yes, I am pleased to mention a new project. We are working with guides in Peru who lead hikers on the Choquequirao trek. Our goal is to deliver water filters to the local villages so those communities can start selling filtered water to hikers coming through instead of selling plastic water bottles.
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