Water-to-Go CEO is selected as an Export Champion

We are delighted to announce that Water-to-Go Founder and CEO, Dave Shanks, has been selected by the Department of International Trade as 1 of 25 Export Champions in the East of England who are promoting British export.

To mark the announcement, Dave was invited to attend a launch event at the Moller Centre in Cambridge on Wednesday 1st May. Other Chief Executives, Managers and Directors from a group of East of England exporting businesses were also recognised and invited as Export Champions by the Department for International Trade (DIT) to the event.

I am delighted to announce the expansion of DIT’s export champion programme, with the addition to the network of 25 experienced exporters based in the East of England.

George Hollingbery

The 25 Export Champions have been selected by DIT for their inspirational approach to growing their businesses through exporting, or for championing exporting in the East of England. As part of the role, champions are also encouraging companies in their region to start exporting, offer practical advice on how to turn exporting ambitions into reality and share their experiences of how DIT helped them break into new markets.

Exporting has been a huge part of our business as we now have distributors selling Water-to-Go bottles in over 50 countries.

The announcement comes as worldwide demand for British goods continues to grow. HMRC figures show that exports from the East of England generated more than £28 billion of income for the UK in 2018, highlighting the opportunity for British businesses to gain greater access to some of the largest and fastest growing markets in the world.

Trade Policy Minister, George Hollingbery visited Cambridge to announce the new Export Champions and to discuss opportunities for businesses to increase their exports. As part of the UK’s future independent trade policy, there will be new opportunities for British businesses to gain greater access to some of the largest and fastest growing markets in the world.

British businesses and exporters will play a major role in helping to forge stronger trading relationships as we leave the European Union and take control of our independent trade policy for the first time in over 40 years.

George Hollingbery

Dave Shanks, CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go; and George Hollingbery, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade

The Export Champion community, launched in March as part of the Exporting is GREAT campaign, was introduced in response to a desire from businesses to receive peer-to-peer exporting support. There are now 250 Export Champions active across England, and the Department’s ambition is to expand the programme to at least 1,000 Champions by April 2020. We were delighted to be a part of the event and the campaign to promote British export, especially in the East Of England.

Through the programme we will continue to work with local businesses to provide expert support and advice, helping business in the East of England take advantage of the largest and fastest growing global markets, where there is high demand for quality British goods.

George Hollingbery

We’re pleased to be strengthening the local economy by selling overseas. It’s very exciting to see Water-to-Go bottles being sold and distributed around the world as we look to make a difference.

We are very proud to be part of the Export Champion Community and to be recognised for making Water-to-Go a global business. You can find out more information and join us in the export community at www.great.gov.uk

Water-to-Go and Explore raise over £2000 for charitable projects

We are delighted to announce that through our partnership with UK tour company, Explore Worldwide, we have managed to raise over £2000 for charitable projects.

We started working with Explore on World Water Day 2018 and since then, we have managed to raise over £2000 for charitable projects. Over just a year, £2211 has been raised via bottle sales from their customers who are going on their trips and want to stay safe and single-use plastic free. This is a fantastic sum and we are delighted to be supporting Explore and their charitable projects. Explore support several initiatives and projects such as Toilet Twinning that make a difference to the destinations they travel to.

From left: Naomi Jackson, Product Manager at Explore Worldwide; Joe Ponte, Managing Director at Explore Worldwide; and Dave Shanks, CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go

This money will go towards Explore Leaders’ local communities around the world and the Explore Start-Up Fund. Explore created the Explore Start-Up Fund in 2016 and each year, they award a donation of £1,000 to three sustainable start-ups. The business proposals come from their overseas teams around the world and the only imperative is that the ideas are sustainable, and can continue to grow and flourish without continued financial support. From looms being purchased for women’s’ cooperatives in Morocco, to a vertical garden project in Cambodia, to a bike repair shop with apprentice scheme in Tanzania the scope is wide and the project is very exciting!

Explore Worldwide specialise in small group adventure holidays and travel tours for every kind of customer; offering over 600 trips worldwide in 130 countries. From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore.  

They believe travel should change us, not the world. That communities and cultures should benefit and flourish and that we should leave nothing but footprints behind. That is why responsible travel is at the core of everything they do from sponsoring projects around the world and offsetting carbon emissions of their flights to supporting local communities and protecting wildlife. Water-to-Go are delighted to be working with them and we look forward to what the future holds as we continue to make a difference in the travel and tourism industry.

At Explore, their priority is their customer’s health, well-being and safety. Ensuring you are drinking enough clean water when trekking in Nepal, taking a long, hot train journey across India or snorkelling in the Med is key to staying well and having an amazing holiday. However, whether it’s on the TV, in the paper or over the radio, the ever-growing plastic problem is unavoidable and they are keen to lead the way in reducing single-use plastic on our trips. Sounds like it should be an easy task but it’s not.

An average group of 16 people, on a two-week tour will use, and throw away, between 800-1000 plastic bottles! We have been trialling a few methods around the world to reduce these numbers but we haven’t found a perfect solution – until now. We’re very happy to partner with Water-to-Go to offer our customers an exclusive discount on their refillable, filtration bottles to ensure you can stay fighting fit and guilt free during your adventure!

Explore Worldwide

In fact, since we started our partnership with Explore this time last year, we are pleased to report that their customers have saved around 105,000 single-use plastic bottles from waste on their trips around the world by using Water-to-Go bottles! 

We hope that this is just the start of what is already a very fruitful partnership and we look forward to working further with Explore to help make a difference.

For more information on our partnership with Explore Worldwide, click here.

Water-to-Go marks World Malaria Day 2019

Water-to-Go is marking World Malaria Day 2019 along with our partners Malaria No More UK. To find out about our partnership click here.

‘Zero malaria starts with me’

The World Health Organisation has joined with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. This year the focus is on the ‘zero malaria starts with me’ campaign which is a programme aiming to keep malaria high on political agendas, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.

World Malaria Day 2019 will be hosted in the city of Paris, with WHO and RBM partnership working alongside the French Government and the city of Paris. There will be a range of events organised across the city centre, recognising the importance of fighting against malaria, and the need to step up the fight against this preventable and treatable disease.

The 2018 WHO Malaria Report highlights that funding for prevention efforts have stalled and in fact malaria cases are back on the rise. Whilst significant progress has been made in the past 10 years, until malaria is completely irradicated it will remain a threat to hundreds of millions, primarily in Africa’s poorer countries.

Water-to-Go and Malaria No More UK

We’re excited about celebrating World Malaria Day 2019 with our partners Malaria No More UK. As part of our partnership, we are selling a limited edition branded bottle (as pictured below). With each bottle sold you will be donating £8 to Malaria No More UK and will be aiding their mission to end malaria once and for all, plus you can get yourself a fantastic bottle in the process! To get yourself a bottle click here.

Ash Dykes and Malaria No More UK

Water-to-Go and Malaria No More UK ambassador Ash Dykes has been using his branded bottle during his world first expedition along the Yangtze river. Ash is currently just over half way on his attempt to become the first person to walk the entire 4000-mile length of the Yangtze River.

Ash became an ambassador for Malaria No More UK following his trek across the length of Madagascar. During another of his world firsts, Ash contracted malaria and thankfully survived, stating that he ‘wouldn’t wish [his] experience on anyone, it was truly horrific’.

Malaria No More UK on World Malaria Day 2019

Malaria No More and Malaria Must Die have now launched their new campaign, the world’s first voice petition to end malaria. ‘The Power of the Voice’ campaign aims to get people to call on their leaders to end malaria. You can join Beckham’s call and help end malaria once and for all. To add your voice to the petition visit Malaria Must Die’s website by clicking here.

Water-to-Go and Ramblers Walking Holidays Raise over £1000 for Heart and Sole

Water-to-Go and Ramblers Walking Holidays are delighted to have raised over £1000 that will go towards charitable projects and initiatives that Ramblers support. Dave Shanks, Director of Water-to-Go, presented the Heart & Sole team with a cheque for £1,150 as a donation based on the number of Water-to-Go bottles purchased by their clients in 2018.

Ramblers and Heart & Sole

We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able to use our profits to help make a difference to peoples’ lives. Ramblers Walking Holidays have a scheme called Heart & Sole, managed by their office staff, and their aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries they visit. Their hope is to make a long term, direct impact on these communities, particularly in less developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way. Heart & Sole will be able to use these funds to continue supporting ventures at home and in the countries they visit around the world.

Heart & Sole offers much-needed support to projects and charities in the UK and overseas, dealing with both large issues such as animal welfare as well as small, and more personal, ventures such as providing schools equipment to village communities. They are currently working with SPANA in Morocco, Cockermouth Mountain Rescue, SOS Children’s Villages in Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Malawi and Morocco.

In South Africa, Heart and Sole support the Royal Drakensberg primary school, in St Lucia a school breakfast club and Andros Routes in Greece. Most recently, they delivered donated items to an orphanage in Tanzania and foster homes in San Jose, Costa Rica. By travelling with Ramblers Walking Holidays, in addition to experiencing the joy of visiting new places, you can help make a difference in these communities.

Seeing the World on Foot with Ramblers

Ramblers Walking Holidays have been providing great value small-group guided holidays in spectacular locations around the globe for 70 years that allow you to discover the essence of the place you are visiting. They are all about seeing the world on foot, offering everything from lowland ambles to high mountain trekking, from short sightseeing walks to challenging long-distance trails.

Ramblers Walking Holidays also want to encourage sustainable practices in the destinations they send their travellers. They are advocates of responsible tourism in accordance with AITO and are extremely aware of the social and environmental impact of travel. By encouraging clients to buy a Water-to-Go bottle, they hope to reduce plastic waste and do their bit for the environment.

The Water-to-Go and Ramblers Partnership

We have been working with Ramblers Walking Holidays for a number of years to help keep their customers healthy and hydrated on their trips. Through our partnership, we have continued to raise money for Heart and Sole. In 2016, Heart & Sole used money donated by Water-to-Go to sponsor the building of a toilet block in Pakistan through an organisation called Toilet Twinning. In December 2017, Water-to-Go were delighted to present Heart & Sole with another cheque for £750 from bottles bought by their clients which has also gone towards their development projects.

We are delighted to be working with such a fantastic company that has a brilliant ethos and that is supporting some life-changing causes. Learn more about Ramblers Walking Holidays and our partnership here.

World Water Day 2019

World Water Day 2019 is focusing on ‘Safe Water for All’

This year the UN is focusing on their sustainable Development Goal 6 which is to provide safe drinking water for all by 2030. The theme of the day is about ‘Leaving no one behind’ in providing safe drinking water around the world. This World Water Day, 22nd March, is about tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

Incredibly there are still 2.1 billion people that live at home without safe water to drink with a staggering 700 children under five years old dying every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. This Friday the UN is spreading awareness about this preventable problem and showing the huge scale of the problem.

The UN is encouraging people the ‘Learn’, ‘Share’ and ‘Act’ on the world’s water crisis. So, firstly make sure you’re familiar with all the issues surrounding this year’s theme. World Water Day’s website has some great information about the water problem. Secondly, let people know about this problem and just how severe the issues are. A great way to do this is through social media using #worldwaterday. And finally, do something about the issues, no matter how small your actions they all contribute towards an important cause.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 is crystal clear: water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind. But today, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive. Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.

Water-to-Go and World Water Day

Part of Water-to-Go’s mission is to protect our customer’s health by providing clean safe drinking water anywhere in the world. For this reason, we are excited to see that the UN has chosen the theme of clean water for all and helping to raise awareness about the world’s water crisis. Working with organisations such as Just A Drop as well as individual volunteering programmes has helped us do our small bit to help combat provide clean safe drinking water to those who need it most.

Water-to-Go helping provide Clean Safe Drinking Water

Water-to-Go have donated many bottles and supported a number of fantastic charitable projects to help bring clean safe water to areas of the world which do not currently have easy access to safe drinking water.

In one of our most recent blog posts, we outlined how we helped support Sara Broring on her volunteering in South Africa. Sara is a cardiac physiologist and through the Echo in Africa project has been helping children with cardiac diseases in Africa. We provided bottles for Sara to donate to the families in the community she was working in that didn’t have access to clean safe drinking water. If you’d like to find out more about Sara’s story click here.

Water-to-Go working with tourism operators

We are also working with many leading tourism operators to help lower their carbon footprint and help their customers stay safe and healthy wherever they go. By using a Water-to-Go bottle, they will be access safe, clean drinking water from any non-saltwater source so they can stay hydrated and do their bit for the environment by cutting down on single-use plastic bottles.

World Water Day marks our anniversary of working with Explore Worldwide who specialise in small group adventure holidays and travel tours. Water-to-Go produced branded bottles so that they could offer to their customers on their trips to provide safe water and eliminate plastic bottles. So far they have saved around 105,000 single-use plastic water bottles which is fantastic. If we all take their stance and make ‘microchanges’ in our life, we will make a difference.

Celebrate World Water Day with Water-to-Go

To mark World Water Day, we are offering a 22% discount for a limited time on our website. Take advantage of this offer and show your support towards World Water Day. To redeem the discount, visit www.watertogo.eu and use code WWD22 at the checkout.

Happy World Water Day!

Top tips for your Travel Health

A Travel Health Guide designed to Protect you from Illness on your Holidays

Making sure you keep yourself healthy whilst travelling is something very important for your holidays. The last thing you want is for your holiday to be ruined by a nasty stomach bug or potentially something worse.

As a result, we at Water-to-Go have created this guide to help you stay healthy on your holidays. As a company we have worked within the travel sector for many years now, forming partnerships with travel clinics and companies such as Wild Frontiers and  Explore. We’ve used this knowledge and produced this guide to give you an idea of what you need to be thinking about when planning your next trip.

Whilst we can’t tailor this guide to everyone’s specific holiday, these are some general thoughts for you to be aware of in relation to your travel health. For information about a specific country you will be travelling to, check out the Rough Guides website. They provide information for loads of specific countries and regions, such as their backpacker’s guide to India.

 

Travel Vaccinations

It’s important to be prepared medically for whichever country you are visiting, especially if you are travelling to countries like those within Africa where there is the risk of diseases such as Malaria.

The medication you’ll need will vary depending on the country you’re travelling to. Make sure to consult your GP or visit a travel health clinic to recommend the medicines/ vaccinations you will need for your travels. Their’s nothing worse than your experience being ruined because of an illness.

 

Filter Water Bottle

Water can be a common source of illness on holidays, especially if you are travelling to destinations such as India or parts of Africa where the water source may not be reliable. It’s therefore important to make sure you are able to get quick and easy access to clean safe drinking water.

The Water-to-Go filter bottle is the perfect tool for the job. The bottle’s unique filter is able to filter out over 99.9% of microbiological contaminants, meaning you can drink safely from and non-salt water source with confidence you won’t catch any illnesses.

In addition to this, one filter can replace up to 400 single-use plastic bottles. Therefore, you won’t have to contribute towards the world’s plastic pollution problem in the search for clean safe drinking water.

 

Think about your Travel Diet

Your food can carry similar illnesses as the water you drink. To avoid symptoms like diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting there are a few precautions you can take:

  • Tray and avoid fruit and veg that has been washed in local water.
  • Don’t buy unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Eat fruits such as Bananas and oranges which have thick peelable skins.
  • If you can, avoid Ice in your drinks.
  • Prepare your own meals where you can.

 

Use Suncream

Obviously, this will primarily apply to those visiting hot countries where you’ll regularly be in the sun. It’s important to understand the strength of cream you will need and if you’re unsure, it’s better to go with a higher SPF to be safe.

There are numerous health benefits towards using sunscreen with the most obvious being you won’t be having to endure the pain of sunburn during your holiday. However, there are also long-term benefits such as reducing the chances of skin cancer, reduces premature skin ageing and preventing blotchy skin.

 

Carry a First-Aid kit with you

Some form of first aid kit is something that should be essential when you’re travelling, especially for those going on a more adventurous trip. This kit will help you to avoid a small injury, such as a cut or scrape, turning into anything worse that can have a bigger impact on your experience.

A great way to make the most of your first aid kit is to create your own personalised kit. By doing this you’ll be able to prepare for the specific health concerns that you’ll be facing on your trip. As well as including your own first-aid items, there are some essential items you should include. These essential items we recommend are plasters, antiseptic wipes/ cream, paracetamol, scissors and any prescription medicine you would normally take.

 

Travel Insurance

If you are unfortunate enough to encounter some form of illness or injury whilst on your travels you’ll want travel insurance. Dependent on the country you are visiting, it may not be worth relying on local medical care as some countries can be unreliable.

For this reason, it’s important to get yourself some travel insurance that covers your health. You should be able to find some pretty cheap and good value insurance deals online and will certainly be less expensive than if you were to receive medical attention without insurance. Just make sure to check your insurance covers everything you feel you’ll need on your trip.

 

Lessening the Effects of Jet lag

The NHS recommends a number of things you can do to help reduce the impacts of jet lag, including:

  • Start adjusting your sleeping pattern by an hour or two (in the correct direction) before you travel.
  • Drink plenty of water whilst travelling.
  • Use an eye mask and earplugs to help get to sleep, so you can adjust your sleeping pattern.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible while travelling.
  • Set an alarm to avoid oversleeping.
  • Spend time outside during the day if you can, sunlight will help your body clock adjust.

 

Avoiding Altitude Sickness

This is something that won’t affect everyone however, this is something that you will have to take into account for a large proportion of holidays, such as skiing holidays or visiting places such as Machu Picchu.

Credit: Leon McCarron – (www.leonmccarron.com)

In terms of counteracting altitude sickness, there are a few techniques and medications you can use. Firstly, acetazolamide is designed to prevent and treat the symptoms of altitude sickness. You’ll also want to bring some paracetamol or something similar to prevent headaches, as well as anti-sickness medication like promethazine. It’s also important if you are experiencing altitude sickness, to stay where you are and not try to climb any higher as well as drinking plenty of water. For more information about medication consult your GP.

Water-to-Go ambassador, Chaz Powell, Becomes One of the First to Walk the Length of the Gambia River

After 47 days, 1120km and 1.5 million steps, adventurer, expedition leader and Water-to-Go ambassador Chaz Powell along with his fellow adventurer and expedition photographer Tim Roberts have become the first people in known history to walk the length of the Gambia river from its source in the Fouta Djallon, Guinea to the Atlantic Ocean on Africa’s Western coast.

This epic journey took them through Guinea, Senegal and the complete length of The Gambia to become the first people in known history to walk the river’s length. The map below shows the route they took.

The 1120km shown on a ZeroSixZero map

“It was an incredible life changing expedition that’s taken us through, wild, rugged and breath-taking landscapes from day one!”

Chaz Powell and Tim Roberts

They said it was “a challenging adventure that’s seen us trek through extreme temperatures and harsh landscapes, whilst enduring constant hunger, dehydration and walking amongst the wildest of animals! But also it’s been the most incredible of journeys where we’ve experienced unending hospitality and kindness from the most humble of people.”

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz is no stranger to adventure and has over 15 years of remote travel and expedition experience. In 2016/17 he spent 137 days walking the 3000km length of the Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth longest and wildest river; becoming only the second person in known history to complete this wild and dangerous journey by foot. Roberts joined Chaz on this latest wildest journey as expedition photographer and to help document this historic feat. He’s also no stranger to adventure and has walked various challenging treks all over the world.

This expedition will go down as one of their biggest challenges but also achievements to date as they have now both written themselves into the history books. Whilst they both wanted to test themselves on another wild journey, an important aspect surrounding the expedition was to experience Africa and learn about the wildlife, the culture and the people that live and depend on the Gambia River.

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz and Tim experienced cultures and communities first-hand that many people would not have known even existed so this adventure was able to provide a real insight to Africa that would have been completely different to what many people had experienced before.

It’s important to remember that this was no walk in the park as Chaz and Tim definitely faced a number of challenges along the way including dealing high temperatures and threats from wild animals. One of the major challenges on the expedition was finding safe drinking water. To solve this, Chaz and Tim were pleased to work with the UK company, Water-to-Go. Water-to-Go is a portable water filtration system that eliminates well in excess of 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source. This, therefore, allowed them to fill their bottles up from any freshwater stream, local tap or from the Gambia river itself to keep themselves healthy and hydrated throughout the expedition without getting ill.

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz has used his trusted Water-to-Go bottle on many of his adventures and this on-going partnership highlights his commitment to sustainable travel and protecting the environment. The Water-to-Go ambassador is keen to eliminate all single-use plastic bottles on his expeditions and showcase a simple alternative that everyone can use.

One of the main reason’s behind this expedition was to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and highlight serious wildlife crimes that are happening along the remote regions surrounding Africa’s rivers. Chaz partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation for this expedition, one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations that focuses on the protection of African wildlife and wildlands. Throughout his expedition, Chaz was providing his observations of Africa’s wildlife, wild lands and people to the charity.

Credit: Tim Roberts

Chaz also highlighted our partnership and current charity project with the African Wildlife Foundation whilst on this expedition. Water-to-Go are working with the African Wildlife Foundation in order to raise money and awareness of the work that they do and to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa. We have produced a limited edition bottle, that Chaz used on his expedition, to raise awareness and funds for the organisation.

If you want to get involved in the campaign, Water-to-Go’s special AWF branded bottles are still available via our website with £10 from each bottle purchased being donated to the incredible projects and programs run by African Wildlife Foundation.

“Through my ‘The Wildest Journey’ expeditions, I hope to inspire people to take note on what’s happening to the remaining wildlife and wild lands and support my journeys to help me raise the vital funds needed to ensure these places are protected and managed well for future generations.”

Chaz Powell

Chaz has a lot more expeditions in store so watch this space to see where he will be exploring next on ‘The Wildest Journey.’

Credit: Tim Roberts

You can help support his remote journeys and be part of helping support his cause by visiting and donating at – www.justgiving.com/TheWildestJourney

Keep up with what Chaz is up to and follow his expeditions on Facebook and Instagram (@thewildestjourney)

Credit: Tim Roberts

Ash Dykes: the good, the bad and the ugly of Mission Yangtze

Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, is continuing to make great progress on his current mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. He has already passed the half-way mark and is encountering a new side of the Yangtze as he goes from very rural to more urban parts of this amazing river.

We wanted to get the thoughts of Ash after getting to the half-way point in his expedition and his observations so far. In particular, we were interested to hear about the food, the people and his observations of the Yangtze in general. It is clear that there has been a good, a bad and an ugly side of Mission Yangtze.

A lot of people in the UK and the western world are into their Chinese takeaways and have asked Ash whether or not the typical Chinese takeaway meals, are the same as the actual dishes in China. The quick answer would be “no, not really”. In China, it’s better, healthier and there is so much more choice, with the dishes being different in each province.

One of the first places Ash visited was Quinhai, a province in West China, which is one of if not the most wildest parts of Asia in general. There are a lot of locals still living the nomadic way of life, herding their yak and moving from place to place. There are a lot of mongols that Ash has come across, living with their families in nomadic tents and yurts. Up here at 4000 to 5000 metres above sea-level, they experience very extreme conditions. It is very wild and isolated. The temperature is below 0 most of the time, and in Winter it hits -30 degrees Celsius or more

So their food is very heavy and stodgy with a lot of calories to keep them energised. Qinghai Province (west China) which has more of a Tibetan food influence, is made up mainly of fats, proteins and dairy products. It’s heavy and stodgy food that is well needed for those kinds of environments, where there are harsh temperatures and it is at altitude. Ash had a lot of Yak meat, yoghurt, bread, milk, butter and tsampa (roasted flour, usually barley flour and sometimes also wheat flour. It is usually mixed with the salty Tibetan butter tea and great to actually carry with you on long hikes).

When Ash’s journey started to drop in altitude and he ventured into the Sichuan province, the food started to dramatically change. The climate was warmer, there were more plantations and vegetation, the food was far more diverse and a lot tastier, with herbs and spices added to the mix. Sichuan is famous for its spicy hotpots (originally from Chongqing) and the food here does have a kick.

Breaking into Yunnan, they have everything here with so many great dishes. They have all the vegetables, all the meats; and produce loads of meals, suited for all types of eaters. This has been Ash’s favourite cuisine of #MissionYangtze so far.

If you have been following Ash on social media, it is clear that there is an awful lot to experience and witness along the Yangtze river, much of which hasn’t been explored before. The Yangtze is officially the third longest river in the world. In fact, it is only a tad shorter than the Amazon or the Nile – only a couple of days extra walking to make up the difference according to Ash.

People assume that, because of the sheer size of it, the Yangtze is very heavily polluted but to say that, you would be very much mistaken. It perhaps is at the end of it and Ash will observe this at the end of his expedition. Ash has walked over 2000 miles so far and the river has been brown at times. But this is mainly because of the heavy storms they experience there; washing down dirt and clay off mountains in the water and turning it that colour. At the moment, Ash is happy to report that it is blue and very fresh, clean, clear.

“This is another shock. I thought I’d find polluted water – but the 2,000 miles of what I’ve done so far, has been quite fresh. It’s blue and there’s lots of wildlife. Now I’ve hit the halfway point and I’m starting to go north-east, towards Shanghai, I will start seeing a different river. I don’t look forward to seeing that. I took a last look at the Yangtze in all its health, nice and blue.”

Ash Dykes

So there is a lot of good work being done that Ash has seen and been told about by the locals. There is a lot of protection for aquatic life and endangered wildlife in particular. Ash only learned a few weeks ago that there is there is still the wild dolphin along with the Yangtze alligator that still habits there; that was originally written off as being extinct.

Ash has walked through the main Yangtze provinces of Yunan, Sichuan and Qinghai so far. Each province has its own different people, dialects, feuds, plantations and vegetation. Ash has experienced a different way of life in each of these provinces which has only furthered his knowledge of the Yangtze and China as a whole. But one thing has remained the same – the people and their manner. Wherever Ash has been, the locals have been so friendly and hospitable. He has been welcomed into the community and has been offered a place to stay and eat wherever he has been. The people always try their best to accommodate.

However, it hasn’t always been easy when the people have tried to show their kindness. This ‘kindness’ has often ended up with Ash being detained and questioned by the police! Ash has gone to such wild places that they don’t know what to do so they just end up calling the police. The police have often rocked up at 2/3 am – not to cause harm but to question him as they are worried for his safety. Ash is aware that they might not have seen a westerner before and this has been part of the confusion. The policed have taken him in but always let him go eventually. Ash has just taken it in his stride and accepted that it has just a part of mission.

One of the main aspects of Ash’s expedition was to experience the people and the different cultures along the Yangtze. Ash has been surprised at the sheer number of communities and people that live along and depend on the Yangtze. There are at least 111 cities along the Yangtze, that Ash is aware of, that have a population higher than New Zealand which is staggering. With it being so long at 4000 miles, the Yangtze caters for everyone so you find a diverse range of people that live along there.

The first half of his journey has taken him through China’s ‘wild west’, exposing him to the elements and vistas of jaw-dropping beauty. Now he’s preparing to tackle the urbanised east, where human development dominates and cities are interspersed with paddy fields.

“The first half [of this trip] was always anticipated to be the most difficult. It’s sensitive being so close to Tibet and it’s so remote and wild. The terrain was tricky, temperatures dropped below minus 20C, there were snow blizzards and there was a threat from bears and wolves.”

Ash Dykes

The mission got off to a fairly rocky start – complications with permits, visas and his support team have pushed the challenge back by a few weeks. “On the way up the mountain I lost my videographers through a combination of altitude sickness and the extreme cold,” says Dykes. “Then, my local guide was doubled over and I checked on him, his nose was bleeding and he was struggling for breath. He’s a local Tibetan, who lives in a village at about 3,500 metres [11,500 feet] [above sea level], but even he had to turn back.” This was a big wake-up call for Ash and everyone following the expedition to realise the sheer danger and harsh conditions that is encompassed with this mission.

Despite this, Ash has carried on like the true Welsh warrior that he is and was delighted to reach the half-way mark after so many setbacks and difficulties. However, Ash will be facing a different set of challenges as he starts to travel through the more urban parts of the Yangtze. Ash still has another 2000 miles of adventuring through Chinese terrain where he will encounter fresh challenges and amazing experiences along the way. Ash is prepared for what is to come over the next several months.

“There will be different challenges – maybe snakes and spiders. I can’t go trampling on someone’s land so I’ll have to go around and that’s going to be more annoying and irritating than anything else. The river is a lot deeper, so the tributaries are wider and there’ll be more detours. The river is just under 4,000 miles but this will end up being more than a 4,000 mile trek.”

Ash Dykes

Whilst the many changes in scenery, people and food; there is one thing that remains the same on his journey that is always there – his Water-to-Go bottle. He has carried his trusted Water-to-Go for the duration of this mission and his 2 previous world firsts across Mongolia and Madagascar to keep him healthy and hydrated with safe clean drinking water.

There have been many points along this mission where he has been desperate for water and has simply filled his Water-to-Go bottle with water straight from the Yangtze itself and the 3-in-1 technology filter has allowed him to drink it straight away.

His Water-to-Go bottle has been an essential item on all of his travels to provide him with safe, drinking water wherever he is. Not only does it help him save money, but it also helps him to save weight and save the planet by not needing to purchase single-use plastic bottles that we find so often polluting our rivers and oceans.

A major part of Ash’s expedition is to travel responsibly and sustainably, and the Water-to-Go bottle allows him to do this. Ash has been explaining this to the people he meets on his journey and is trying to help them become more sustainable as a community. Water-to-Go is the ideal alternative to single-use plastic bottles and we are delighted that Ash is promoting this message on his biggest expedition yet.

Overall, Ash is pleased with how his expedition is going and everything that he is learning about the Yangtze. He is looking forward to the next chapter and will look to keep us all updated with his progress.

Keep track of Ash on his live tracker

So make sure you keep up with Ash on social media as he continues his expedition and experiences the beauties of the Yangtze and China in general.

10 Ways to Reduce your Plastic Waste

Simple Things you can do to Reduce your Plastic Pollution Footprint

The World’s plastic pollution problem has become a source for global concern over the past few years. Of the 6 billions tonnes of plastic that has been produced since the 1950s, only around 9% is recycled. This means there is a phenomenal amount of plastic and waste in general that escapes our waste management systems and ends up polluting our planet.  Every year approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans and result in harming wildlife and wild animals. It is imperative that we all do our bit to tackle this and reduce plastic waste.

This guide will aim to help you reduce your plastic waste and stop using single-use plastic in as many situations as possible. There are some very simple things that you can do and changes you can make in your life that will make a difference.

Use your own non-plastic carrier bags

Whilst the 5p plastic bag charge has made a big difference in the amount of carrier bags people use, plastic bags remain a big contributor to the world’s plastic pollution problem.

There is a range of alternatives to single-use plastic bags available made from fabrics such as canvas and natural fibres, so you can avoid plastic altogether. They generally aren’t too expensive either so if you are a regular shopper it shouldn’t be too long until your bag has paid itself off.

Get a Reusable Water Bottle

With a million plastic bottles bought around the world every minute, getting yourself a reusable water bottle is a great way to help prevent one of the biggest contributors towards the world’s plastic problem.

The Water-to-Go bottle is a fantastic replacement for single-use plastic water bottles. In addition to the reusable element of the bottle, it’s replaceable filter cartridge is able to filter out well over 99.9% of microbiological contaminants from any fresh water source. This means no matter the situation you’re in you shouldn’t ever need to revert to single-use plastic water bottles.

Just 75cl Water-to-Go filter will replace 400 single-use plastic water bottles. If we all adotped this principle and changed our mindset on plastic, just think of the difference we could make.

Opt for a reusable coffee cup

Similarly to water bottles, using plastic coffee cups for just one tea or coffee is another very wasteful practice, with 7 million disposable plastic coffee cups used every day in the UK.

A number of the big coffee companies such as Starbucks and Costa have started reusable cup initiatives such as money off your coffee if you bring in a reusable cup as well as starting to make their own reusable cups.

There are plenty of options for reusable coffee cups with many at a very reasonable price. So if you take advantage of the extra money off your coffee with the reusable cup you’ll be able to pay it off in no time.

Avoid plastic cutlery and plastic straws

Plastic Cutlery is something that has become common in many takeaway shops and is just another form of unnecessary single-use plastic. A fairly new concept of portable, reusable cutlery is something that can help in preventing the need for single-use plastic knives and forks.

These generally come as a cutlery set of knife, fork and spoon with a case so that they are easy to carry around. Non-plastic straws are also widely available in a similar fashion to the cutlery sets. You can get these in a range of materials including wood, plastic and metal, although these will need cleaning fairly regularly.

Carry your own food and containers

Carrying your own food rather than buying, for example, a sandwich from a shop can help you reduce the amount of plastic packaging you are buying and inevitably your plastic waste.

By packing your own food in reusable containers you won’t need to buy food packaged in plastic, and your reusable containers will mean you won’t need to throw anything away either.

Plastic-free chewing gum

The majority of chewing gums are made up of a synthetic rubber which in essence is a plastic. In fact, 85% of people in the UK don’t know that these chewing gums contain plastic. So when used and thrown away most chewing gums are pretty much a single-use plastic.

So avoiding chewing gum altogether is one way to avoid this form of plastic waste. However, there are a few new companies that have been popping up making natural, biodegradable chewing gums. Iceland has now become the first UK supermarket to stock this form of chewing gum from a brand called ‘Simply Gum’.

Buy in bulk

Unfortunately, in today’s world, there may be times where avoiding single-use plastic is unavoidable. Despite this, there are still ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that you buy. One concern is when you buy products, such as clothes online or certain foods, they will always come in plastic packaging. A way to reduce the amount of plastic packaging you’re buying and inevitably throwing away is to buy in bulk.

Often when you buy in bulk you will be able to buy products that come in less plastic packaging than they would have if they were to be bought individually. In the case of online clothing, a lot of retailers will put more than one item of clothing in the same plastic packaging, meaning buying lots of pieces of clothing in one order will reduce the amount of plastic packaging they will send out and in turn the amount of plastic waste you are throwing away.

Keep watching for new anti-plastic initiatives

As people and companies become more aware of the world’s plastic waste problem, companies are starting to take action with new plastic-free products, such as the ones we’ve already discussed in this blog. So make sure you’re keeping an eye out for new ways to reduce your plastic footprint.

You can also get involved with non-profit organisations and initiatives which are helping to combat the plastic pollution problem. Incredible Oceans is a fantastic example of a not-for-profit organisation that are helping protect our oceans from plastic pollution. They run education programmes, events and festivals using charismatic marine creatures to tell critical ocean stories in engaging and entertaining ways.

These changes may seem small but if we all change our mindset around plastic, we can all make a huge difference and preserve the future of our planet. Join us on the Water-to-Go journey and together we will change the world, one bottle at a time.

Water-to-Go are working with the African Wildlife Foundation

Water-to-Go are delighted to announce that we are working with the African Wildlife Foundation in order to raise money and awareness of the work that they do to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa. This is an exciting new partnership for the business as we continue to grow and spread the message about Water-to-Go.

African Wildlife Foundation is improving the lives of local people alongside protecting wildlife and their habitat so both can have a sustainable fugure. AWF works directly with communities and local partners to understand the obstacles faced and find solutions specific to their needs so that livelihoods do not destroy the natural environment or threaten the survival of wildlife. By providing incentives such as economic enterprises, access to better education or sharing income from tourism, AWF’s programmes support communities to develop whilst embracing conservation. We are pleased to be supporting these initiatives through this campaign.

Kirstin Johnson, UK Director of the African Wildlife Foundation; Chaz Powell, UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador; Dave Shanks, CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go

Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has nearly 60 years of experience working to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in a modern Africa. As one of the oldest and largest conservation organizations focused solely on the continent of Africa, AWF is the primary advocate for the protection of African wildlife and wild lands.

For this campaign, Water-to-Go has produced a special edition bottle that is available via our website. We will donate £10 from every special bottle sold towards AWF’s work to protect the wildlife and wild lands in Africa. 

African Wildlife Foundation Limited Edition 75cl filter bottle

Water-to-Go bottles protect our planet by providing an environmentally friendly alternative to single-use plastic. On his travels around the world, Water-to-Go founder Dave Shanks was shocked at the piles of plastic waste he saw that were damaging local communities and the planet. He sought to create a sustainable solution to this problem and developed a reusable, recyclable water bottle that contains a unique 3-in-1 filter that provides safe drinking water anywhere. Now, Water-to-Go are working with AWF to ensure the sustainable future of Africa’s people, wildlife and land.

Africa loses 8 percent of its elephants to poaching every year. AWF’s programmes include training and equipping rangers, deploying sniffer and detection dogs, setting aside protected areas for critically endangered wildlife and educating the public and those responsible for law enforcement on how the destruction of habitat and illegal wildlife trade is robbing Africa of its future. You can all get involved in our project to support wildlife conservation and ensure Africa’s elephants do not become endangered.

We are delighted to be working with a charity of the calibre and influence of the African Wildlife Foundation. They align with the visions and goals of our business, and together we are committed to making a difference. Through this campaign, we are doing our bit to help protect Africa’s wildlife and wild lands.

The African Wildlife Foundation joins Water-to-Go in its vision to protect the planet by reducing single-use plastic water bottles on their member safaris, and by distributing Water-to-Go bottles to a selection of rangers protecting wildlife on the front line. Water-to-Go will be donating some of these limited edition AWF bottles to the charity so that these rangers can stay healthy and hydrated wherever they are.

Water-to-Go was delighted to be invited to the Royal Over-seas League in London to hear about AWF’s partnership with the Rwandan Development Board that focuses on Mountain Gorilla Conservation in Rwanda alongside community empowerment and development.

This is just one of many initiatives in Africa that are improving people’s lives as well as protecting the wildlife that is so important to the future of the country. It was fantastic to hear about this and to know that our campaign will be actively contributing to these projects.

We were also delighted to meet Yamina Karitanyi, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the UK, at the event who has fully endorsed our project with AWF. CEO and Founder of Water-to-Go, Dave Shanks, got the chance to speak with her about the business and our project with AWF so we are very pleased to have their backing and support going forward.

Yamina Karitanyi, High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the UK; and Dave Shanks, Founder and CEO of Water-to-Go
We need your help if we want this campaign to be a success. If you want to be a part of this campaign, just click the link below and keep up to date on our social media channels. Thank you in advance for your support.

To learn more, visit www.watertogo.eu/awf