Anyone who has been to India knows that waste management is a major challenge. Especially single-use plastics are everywhere. Solving the waste crisis in the Indian Himalayan region is the goal of Waste Warriors. This non profit organisation operates in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh since 2012. What is Waste Warriers’ strategy? And what can you do as tourist or Indian citizen?

Litter on the streets (image source: Refill Ambassadors)
Raising awareness at Bhagsu waterfall, a popular tourist hangout (image source: Refill Ambassadors)

1. Zero waste program

Waste Worriers work closely with local governments to help them overcome challenges in setting up effective waste management systems. The goal is to look for long-term solutions, with a special focus on tourist areas.

2. Community activation

According to Waste Warriors, there are always some people already tackling the problem. Waste Warriors works to identify, encourage and promote the work of these Warriors from within the community. Not just to take care of one’s own waste, but to improve the entire community. Among others, activities include:

  • Collaborate with artists to transform spaces
  • Organise public campaigns
  • Run education programs
  • Responsible tourist initiatives
Pledge to not litter (image source: Refill Ambassadors)

3. Research and advocacy

Waste Warriors partners with academic institutions think tanks, and other non-profits to design and implement policy advocacy and research projects with specific objectives. They look at the environmental impact of waste, behavioural change and technology solutions.

4. Dignified livelihoods

Waste workers often face lots of social and economic difficulties. That’s why Waste Warriors wants to assist youth and women to generate additional income and earn their identity.

Waste Warriers achievements

They state:

A decade into the battle, we realize we have a long path ahead. Yet, our small victories along the way have created large ripple effects!

We are proud that they have collected 5,570 Metric Tonnes of waste, engaged more than 160.000 people, and empowered over 700 waste workers.

This blog is just a very short summary of all the work Waste Warriors is doing. Visit their website to learn more.

What you can do

  • Join as volunteer for cleanups or other events throughout India, or organise your own cleanup
  • Separate your waste
  • Decrease your own waste, by opting to eat in, bring your own water bottle with filter, cutlery, bag, reusable cup, etc.
  • Pick up litter when going on a hike
River bed leading to the Ganga, Rishikesh (image source: Refill Ambassadors)

Share your thoughts

Do you have more tips? We are excited to hear from you.


Drinking tap water in India is not recommended in most areas. Luckily, refill stations are widespread in the subcontinent. Bring your bottle and start refilling! In this blog we explain how.


Refilling purified and cool drinks for 5 rupies per liter
When the train stops, you can run in and out for a water refill

At some squares, stations and other public places you can refill your own water bottle directly at a machine. This will cost around 5 rupies per liter. Many hotels and museums also offer free filtered water. If they don’t have it on display just ask for it.


At many places you will find public drinking fountains with signs indicating ‘drinking water’. We did not test this water in a lab, but we did not get sick of it either. This water is always free of charge and you will see many Indians drinking from them.

Typical drinking water tap at a train station
Many people will use the same metal cup, so it’s smart to bring your own (cup or bottle)


When traveling to any country where tap water is not potable, we recommend to bring a filter bottle, steripen or other filter. We are traveling in India with the Water-To-Go bottle. This enables you to refill at almost any tap and drink unfiltered water from restaurants. Then you never have to worry about buying plastic bottles.


You may wonder if refilling is really necessary when you only travel a couple of weeks or months in India. Packaged bottled water is widely available and cheap (around € 0,20 per liter). And you don’t want to get sick because of contaminated water. But as a traveler, we feel you have a shared responsibility for your waste.

Many places lack a functioning waste management system, plastic waste is everywhere and many items end up burned instead of recycled.

So please:

  • Put in some extra effort for your water refills, while still using your head to assess the risks (e.g. does it look clean & trustworthy).
  • Don’t open free single use water bottles in hotels, trains, etc.
  • When ordering drinks, ask to serve it without a straw.
  • Water refills are only the first step. You may also want to bring or buy boxes for food parcels and a reusable cup for chai.


If you have more tips on how to refill in India, please leave your comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts.


With a Water-to-go bottle, you safe plastic, money and stay hydrated. In many countries I would not recommend to drink water straight from the tap, especially when you are not used to it. Unless you have the incredible Water-to-go bottle. We took the plunge during a long trip in India.


I really think this is a great product because:

  • It filters 99.99999% of microbiological contaminants in the water. After traveling one month in India, drinking tap water from my Water-to-go bottle, I have not been sick.
  • It takes out bad smell and odours of (tap) water.
  • The bottle is affordable. I paid around 40 euros for a 0.75L bottle, including one filter. There is also a 0.5L bottle.
  • The filters last long. Mine can be used for 2 months or 200 L. I brought 2 spare filters for later this trip.
  • The bottle is durable amd easy to clean. True, it’s not a fancy design but it works amazing.
  • I support the mission and vision of the company.


So how can this bottle with its tiny filter perform it’s magic? I tried to write a good summary, but that did not work. Therefore I copied the following text from the official Water-to-go website:

“Our reusable, BPA free water bottles contains our own unique 3-in-1 filtration technology effectively providing clean safe drinking water from any non-salt water source around the world.

Three different (1 traditional and 2 nano) technologies are combined in one filter cartridge to remove up to 99.9999% of microbiological contaminants in water.

The three technologies used in a Water-to-Go filter are:

  • Mechanical filtration – A tiny pore size, so small contaminants can’t fit through.
  • Electrical – A positive charge reduces the pore size even further and attracts contaminants like a magnet, trapping them inside the filter.
  • Activated Carbon – Unlike most carbon based filters, instead of using adhesives to glue the carbon particles together, (which vastly reduces the carbon’s efficiency) it is contained within the membrane, helping to reduce contaminants whilst eliminating bad tastes and odours.”


Here are some tips… Very obvious but still good to know.

  • Don’t fill it with salty water.
  • Don’t leave the water inside for too long. Or if you do then refresh the bottle first before using.
  • Don’t use aggressive cleaning detergents.
  • You can only drink directly from the cap. You cannot use Water-to-go to filter for example a bucket of water. For this purpose, use another aid such as the Steripen


Look on the Water-to-go website to see if shipment is available in your country. If not, search online.


BluHop is a brand new refill app, launched on June 1st 2019. So far they have reached around 60 cities across India with over 200 Refill stations. BluHop has a remarkable story: it was initiated by a 14-year old boy named Aaryan. His father Akash helps him with operations, to expand the service and with networking. How cool! We wanted to know more about this project and the app. Read our interview with Akash Agrawal, BluHop.


Why did you start BluHop?

‘We went on a long road trip sometime back. On our trip we found it very difficult to find places to refill our bottles. Every time we would end up buying plastic water bottles as there was no alternative. We knew there had to be better way and thus BluHop was born.’

Interesting story. In fact, your motivation to start BluHop is the same as we, Refill Ambassadors, had. Although we must admit Hella waited eight years before starting our project, while you acted immediately J. Back to your app. How does it work?

‘BluHop is a location based mobile app that lets users find refill stations nearby and get real time navigation. Users can see the following information:

  1. Nearest Refill station with time and walking distance
  2. Type of Refill partner (Café, restaurant, drinking fountain etc)
  3. Type of water available (Chilled, Regular)
  4. Conveniences at refill point – specially-abled friendly, parking etc.

Users can apply various filters if they wish and narrow down their search.’

Very clear. We expect these search filters will be useful. Which places can be added as refill stations?

‘Any consumer facing facility can be added as a Refill Station. These may be cafés, restaurants, salons, gyms, clinics, offices and more. Water vending machines and drinking fountains can also be added as refill stations. BluHop is free for Refill partners and users. Refill Partners need to sign up, answer a few questions, input their address and they are done. They show up as a Refill Station on the app and users can find them easily.

We also share stickers that we use on store fronts to let customers know that this store offers Free Refills.’


You just started BluHop. What are the difficulties?

‘The Refill culture is not very prevalent in India. One of the reasons for this is that there was no way find refill stations, i.e. until now. We are hopeful that with time we will be able to change this. First time discussions with businesses are sometimes difficult as this is something new for them. However, once they understand they usually sign up.’

Changing behaviour always takes time and patience. It is great you are trying. Do you work together with other partners, sponsors or companies?

‘We have just launched the service. So far, we are working with WaterHealth International, a private, American multinational corporation headquartered in California. The company operates a network of water vending machines (WVMs) in India. We are also working with another large in-country WVM operator. There are multiple city level partnerships. Country wide partnerships are being forged as we go long. We hope to be able to announce these soon.’


How is the water quality in India? Can you drink tap water (in some areas)?

‘There is strict regulation around water quality that is supplied however actual quality can vary from area to area. It is not advisable to drink right out of the tap for this reason. Every household has its own water purification system.’

Having your own purification  system at home is very good. But when you are on the go you need alternatives, like the refill stations you create. What kind of water is served at the refill stations?

‘Most refill stations serve both regular and chilled water. Purification system vary slightly however many refill stations use RO (Reverse Osmosis) based systems. A few water vending machine operators have their own multi-stage proprietary purification systems.’

What are your future plans?

‘We plan to initiate outreach in select cities and get a few partnerships going. Our immediate target is to reach five hundred refill points and then to a thousand by the year end. A medium sized but well known Cafe chain has agreed to offer refills. This is another first! We would be keen to extend our services to other regions, countries where no such service currently exists. Refill partners can sign up anytime from anywhere.’

Congratulations on your first Café chain! We hope more will follow. Do you have tips for us, Refill Ambassadors?

‘Refill Ambassadors are doing a great job. Every effort towards building awareness about the menace of plastic water bottles and how refill services are helping make a difference will drive usage and benefit the environment.

Most Refill services are only locally known. Global travel is increasing at a fast pace. If local refill station owners are encouraged to list themselves on multiple platforms, then it will further help drive awareness and build confidence in countries where refill culture is limited. Brands will also get more visibility across borders at no cost.’

We completely agree with this. Thank you so much Akash and Aaryan. We wish you good luck and hope to hear more from you in the future.


The BluHop app is available on both iOS and Android. Be the first to like BluHop on facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Read more about BluHop on their website or get in touch with them through