Hi again, as part of my 6 months challenge to live more sustainably, this week I’ll discuss about reducing single plastic use, whether bags, cups, glasses…
Plastic problem in Thailand
Living in Thailand, this seems like an impossible task, plastic is everywhere whether it is bags, cups, glasses, cutlery, straws… on average, each Thai person uses eight plastic bags per day, which equates to almost 200 billion bags each year. Thailand is one of the main contributors to plastic pollution in the world. We are very far from countries such as France where everybody goes shopping with reusable bags.
Luckily things are changing
Thanks to people like Lily, awareness is growing. Cashiers at main shops now understand when you request no plastic bags, nor straw or cutleries. Some of the shops (tesco lotus, tops…) are actually encouraging people bringing reusable bags by offering rewards points. Decathlon is also showing the way by not giving free plastic bags but selling them, very effective way of reducing their usage. Tops supermarket have stopped to give plastic bags every 4th of the month. While it is only a single day per month, it brings awareness. It is nowadays more common to find people bringing their own bags for shopping. The government seems to make some progress though it is way too slow. Thai national parks are now banning plastic bags and styrofoam containers. Unfortunately some of these announces are no more than that, but we can all help make sure things change.
We can easily reduce our plastic use
Convenient reusable bags are sold everywhere (from markets, online shops, supermarkets…) and quite cheap. We just need to remember carrying them with us (we now leave some in the car, including cooling bags useful for shopping here). Some very small tissue bags are quite easy to put in your pockets. I also always have some in my office bag if I buy some fruits or food for dinner. We are now refusing most of the bags at 7/11, tops, supermarket…
While shopping at the markets, the seller will be happy to put goods in your own bags or reusable containers (for meat for example). That way they don’t have to pay for the bags. Some will even happily give you something in exchange or give you some small discount. It is just a change of habit, it is easy to take boxes and bags with you once you get used to it.
It is very common in Thailand to buy ready to eat food and here again it is very often packed in plastic or worse, styrofoam boxes. Well, most of the shop sellers will be happy to use your own container if you have one (at least for the food you order on demand or not packed in advance). There are also alternatives now coming with bamboo or paper based boxes such as fest for food from SCG. With the production increasing, the price of these alternatives is decreasing and they will be soon cheaper. We can also help ensure their usage grow by choosing to use vendors/shops that are using such boxes. Sometimes we underestimate as consumers the power we have. But if all consumers refuse to buy products damaging the environment, soon they will disappear from the shops.
bring your reusable cup/glass
Thailand being a very hot country there are also plenty of places selling drinks. Therefore the number of plastic glasses, put into plastic bags with plastic straws can be huge. We are seeing more and more reusable cups or glasses that people carry with them to these shops. Again the sellers will be happy to use your glass rather than having to purchase a disposable one. Some shops will also give you a discount when you come with your own cup/glass (amazon for example). So from now on we carry our own glasses and if needed reusable straw.
In addition of bringing our own bags, we also look for eco-friendly packages which is not always easy in Thailand. Though some plastic is recycled here, it is mostly only the bottles. Over plastic packaging though it may be recycled is usually not. So the better choice is to shop package free :). It is also healthier since that means less processed food. Once again, the market is often your best friend for such shopping. Fruits and vegetables can be carried in almost any bags (you may want to bring some paper with you in case). Meat, fish, cooked food can easily be put in your own reusable containers.
As you see it is not that complicated to join the reducing single plastic use movement. Since there is so much plastic use here, it is actually easy to find ways to reduce our usage.
As usual, please don’t hesitate to comment below, ask your questions… You can also see my related posts by looking at my 6 months challenge page. Talk to you soon.