Peru’s Battle with the Bottle
Every time travelers buy a plastic water bottle, they are contributing to a solid waste problem that is reaching epic proportions not only in Cusco but all over Peru. The best way to understand the problem is to raft along Cusco’s Río Urubamba, where tree roots are blanketed in thick gobs of plastic bags and beaches are completely covered with plastic bottles.
What resources Peru’s municipal governments have are used to fight poverty, not improve the environment. There is no plastic recycling in Peru, so everything ends up in open landfills or, as is the case with the Urubamba, floating downstream to the Amazon. Nearly 200 million plastic bottles are produced every month in Peru alone, and a good chunk of these are consumed by tourists—who need a few liters of purified water for each day in Peru.
Recently a boycott campaign has been initiated by longtime Ollantaytambo resident Joaquín Randall, who manages his family’s El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo.
Here’s how travelers can do their part to resolve Peru’s plastic addiction:
- • Carry a reusable hard plastic or other water bottle and fill it with treated or boiled water.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition