When traveling long-term, it can be easy to embrace the disposable life. Be it takeaway cartons, plastic utensils and water bottles – you may find yourself sacrificing some habits you’ve diligently stuck to at home in favour of convenience when on the road. Whether you’re traveling to hotter climates or city-hopping for the summer, why not pick up the following items to ensure your footprint is kept to a minimal when traveling?
Bring Your Own Utensils!
When travelling, you’ll be eating takeaway food a lot. In Thailand, we expect to be tucking into street food most days, as it’s so cheap and convenient when spending days on the beach or exploring the bustling towns. In Asia, street food is often served with chopsticks or plastic utensils. Meanwhile, these countries continue to struggle to dispose of these products, along with other single-use plastic, as quickly as it is used.
If you’re heading to South East Asia, the chances are you’re looking forward to swimming in the crystal turquoise oceans and relaxing on the golden sands the country is most famous for? However, as a traveller, it’s your responsibility to make sure these areas of natural beauty are protected. Thailand and Vietnam are among two of the countries that are dumping more plastic into oceans than the rest of the world combined.
In order to avoid becoming part of the problem, we picked up a couple of sporks from Amazon, which we can use for all types of food. Another fantastic option is bamboo cutlery, also available on Amazon and it even comes with its own travel case so you can keep your utensils together while hopping from place to place.
LET’S TALK ABOUT PLASTIC Travelling Thailand has truly challenged our abilities to live ethically, producing minimum waste. In a country where you can’t drink the tap water, and free filtered water taps are rare, we’re really struggling to live our values here on Koh Samui 😞 However, we’re making small efforts every day to minimise our impact on the local environment, for example we take our own produce bags to the fruit stalls (instead of single use plastic ones), we carry sporks in case we want to tuck into a treat like this tub of delicious passion fruit sorbet and we always have a few tote bags on hand for anything we may need to carry… 🍦🍴 What are your top tips for living low waste in a country like Thailand where plastic is so prevalent? Let us know below! ♥️🌏
You’ve be forgiven for thinking that it’s pointless taking a reusable bottle to Thailand, given air travel restrictions and tap water safety concerns. However, we highly recommend you throw an empty canteen into your hold luggage as there will be plenty of opportunities to fill up with filtered water around the country.
Although you won’t be able to avoid all plastic bottles in Thailand, taking a canteen like the One Green Bottle will be super helpful as many food outlets serve free filtered water with food and you can fill up there on your travels. Always be sure to check whether the water is filtered and, if in doubt, pick up a large plastic bottle (5L are available) and keep it in your accommodation to refill your canteen, rather than picking up a 500ml bottle each time you get the thirst.
If you’re planning on buying fresh fruit and vegetables while in Thailand (which you should – the produce is amazing!) then be sure to bring with you some reusable produce bags. Single-use plastic is incredibly prevalent here in Thailand, especially when you’re picking up food, it can be hard to avoid but by bringing your own bags you can be sure to keep plastic bags to a minimum.
We also picked up a tupperware while over here, as many fruit shops offer a free cutting service, meaning you can ask them to fill your tub with all the delicious fresh tropical fruit with none of the packaging their pre-cut good come wrapped in. It’s a win-win!
One of my biggest regrets when packing for this trip was not bringing our stainless steel drinking straws… the Thais will give you a straw with literally every drink! Even bottles of water will come with drinking straws in Thailand. We’ve found it incredibly difficult to avoid all straws, but we did pick up some glass straws from a spot in Koh Phangan, so we are able to say no to straws with smoothies and fresh coconuts – which is a small win in a plastic-filled world!
Join a Beach Clean
Depending on where and how long you’re staying in Thailand, you’ll find many islands are taking it upon themselves to keep their areas clean with organised beach cleans. Expats in Koh Lanta take to the beaches every Sunday to clean up as much plastic waste as possible from the glorious beach fronts, we visited mid-week and the waste already starting to pile up only a few days since the last effort (see top photo!).
Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook for local beach cleaning events in your area, not only are these great opportunities to do your bit for the Thai eco-system, but also an ideal way to meet like-minded folk on your travels.
Stop Eating Seafood!
If you enjoy the odd seafood meal, or even consider yourself a ‘pescetarian’, then take a look at some of the below statistics and think twice before tucking into your next fishy feast.
According to a study recently published in National Geographic:
Fishing nets account for 46 percent of the trash, with the majority of the rest composed of other fishing industry gear, including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates, and baskets.
The article states that an estimated 100,000 marine animals are strangled, suffocated, or injured by plastics every year.
What are your top tips for reducing your waste while travelling? Let us know in the comments below!