Introducing the “Refill Not Landfill” campaign

Refill Not Landfill logo

From the very beginnings of Journeys Within in Cambodia, we’ve tried to find a solution to the thousands of plastic single-use water bottles that accumulate over time. Like in many developing countries, the tap water in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia is not safe to drink, thus single-use plastic water bottles become the norm for visitors, and our guests were no exception.

For years all of Journeys Within’s cars and vans had a cooler in the back full of these environmentally-devastating bottles. Cambodia doesn’t have any plastic bottle recycling, so every bottle was ending up in a landfill, or worse, in the Tonle Sap or Mekong rivers.

Exploring Angkor
Andrea, Callie and Couper explore the Angkor temples with their Refill Not Landfill reusable water bottles.

At the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel we offered glass water bottles in every room and at meals filled up glasses with water, rather than use more plastic bottles, but it was a small dent in a large problem. At one point we ordered BPA-free water bottles and gave them out to each guest, but we soon realized that our drivers and guides were filling these water bottles up from single-use bottles and the problem wasn’t being solved – it was merely being hidden from our guests.

Skip ahead to 2016… Christian De Boer, now the GM of the amazing Jaya House River Park Hotel, came up with and promoted the Refill Not Landfill campaign, and like we had done many years ago, printed up bottles for each of his guests. Here however, is where Christian was able to come up with a real solution to the problem.

Refill Not Landfill bottles in action

Not only did he partner with tour companies like Journeys Within, but he also got restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues to set up refill stations. These refill stations consist of larger water bottles that have clean, filtered water and can be used to refill the smaller reusable bottles. So now, guests can have a Journeys Within water bottle, but get it filled up at their hotel, at their lunch stop and even at the circus that night.

On my July 2017 trip to Cambodia, the kids and I loved having our bottles and we made the most of so many of the refill stations. More and more partners are joining the community initiative and Journeys Within is so proud to be a founding member. Check out this video that highlights how a day without single-use water bottles in Cambodia becomes a reality…

ABOUT REFILL NOT LANDFILL

Refill Not Landfill aims to cut down on the millions of plastic water bottles discarded in Cambodia each year by offering an alternative: reusable aluminum bottles. Our informal consortium hopes to revolutionize the way that tourists consume water in a country where few plastic containers are recycled, with most ending up in mountainous landfills or piling up beside roads, choking the Kingdom’s waterways and littering azure fields with waste. Click here to read more…

Refill Not Landfill bottles in action

Refill Not Landfill bottles in action

Refill Not Landfill bottles in action

Diving with Purpose – Koh Rong Sanloem

Photo Credit: Jay Austin

By Jay Austin

Koh Rong is one of the more popular Cambodian islands off the coast of Sihanoukville, but as with most popular island locations in Southeast Asia, they can be easily overrun by tourists for simply this reason. Koh Rong Sanloem, on the other hand, is only in the early stages of tourism and offers a quieter, more relaxed version of the traditional beach holiday. The island is dotted with resorts which you can only move between by boat as there are no proper roads on the island. The sand is white, the waters are clear and here you have the opportunity to join in the early stages of actually growing a coral reef!

Photo Credit: Jay Austin

The most populated village on Koh Rong Sanloem is M’Pai Bei Village and although the accommodations on offer are still quite basic, there is a decent array of Western and Cambodian restaurants, all within easy walking distance of one another. A visit to M’Pai Bei is not complete without spending some time with the team at Save Cambodian Marine Life, a not-for-profit organization which is dedicated to cleaning and maintaining the waters of M’Pai Bei Bay.

Photo Credit: Jay Austin

The scuba diving in M’Pai Bei is not world class by any means, but a visit to this area of the world allows you to dive for a wonderful purpose, assisting Australian couple Chris & Dianne Martyn in maintaining and growing their coral nursery. This kind of delicate work calls for more accomplished divers (PADI advanced level or higher) who have solid buoyancy control so as not to damage anything in the nursery, but if you are already an Open Water certified diver you can participate in an Advanced Open Water Course through this organization.

Photo Credit: Jay Austin

If you are not a certified scuba diver, never fear, you can still assist in the great work these people do. A number of snorkel reef cleans and beach cleans are scheduled every week as part of the PADI Dive Against Debris program, calling for volunteers to assist the team in keeping the waters around the village clean and free from harmful debris such as fishing nets and plastic.

Photo Credit: Jay Austin

If you are looking to spend some time on the beach in Cambodia, this is a wonderful way to support a community based project whilst enjoying the tropical waters!

Photo Credit: Jay Austin

For those who are seeking more established, resort style accommodations, Saracen Bay located 20 minutes away by boat offers beachfront villas on a 4km stretch of sensational white sand that can be experienced for less than half the cost of other beach resorts in Southeast Asia. Koh Rong Sanloem is one of those places you need to see before the rest of the world discovers it!  (Ask National Geographic who just featured our hotel partner Lazy Beach and Koh Rong Samloem Island among the 21 Best Beaches in the World!)

Photo Credit: Jay Austin
Photo Credit: Jay Austin