I read an article recently written by Kathryn in on 101 ways to be zero waste. Great and simple ways to make it happen. In the US or in Europe maybe. But where I live, Thailand is pretty different as they’re not as well adapted as yet in terms of going eco-friendly or even zero waste thus you will have to adapt to their culture. Asia in general (apart from Japan, Singapore and Korea maybe). So I decided to reconstruct Kathryn’s tips.
It is not easy to get this done as most places you shop still tend to waste. But at least you won’t end up having tons of plastic bags, plastic spoons and straws at home. It doesn’t change anyone else around you. But at least you know you don’t need to keep unnecessary stuff that you have to throw away in the end because it has got no use to you.
Here’s the list of something you can do to be less wasteful:
1. Tell them nicely that you don’t need any straws when you buy a bottle of water from 7-11 or Family Mart (In thai: Mai ao rot ).
It’s drilled into the heads of all employees of convenient stores during work training so automically they give you a straw and put your bottle of water in a plastic bag. And EVERY straw is packaged in plastic for health purpose too. So by drinking that bottle of water, you throw away a plastic bag, a straw, the bottle (People here collect plastic drinking bottles to sell so that’s fine at least its recycled) and the plastic packaging of the straw. Is that necessary?
2. Get a nice thermal water bottle and keep with you when you travel.
Thermal water bottle allows you to store cold and hot drinks. Bring it along with you to save unnecessary purchases of drinking water.
3. Bring a handkerchief instead of buying packet tissues.
I know, I know. Handkerchief look so old fashion. But scout around. You’ll find some really cool modern designs for your snout.
4. Donate your unwanted clothes or sell them cheap.
Forget about those so-called associations. I’ve helped so many times before and found out that our donations didn’t even make it to the poor in the end. Associations or employees kept them and sell them. NOT unless you’re giving to the end-users yourself, don’t trust them. This is probably the only one organisation I saw that seemed real: SCB (Second-chance Bangkok). Otherwise, give it to your maid or security guard who works in the condo or walk around in the streets. You’ll see people in need who live in the slumps and sidewalks wearing the same clothes everytime. They will need them.
5. Turn your old sheets to rags, napkins, etc.
6. Open your windows to air your room when it’s breezy.
I agree that it’s not easy because Thailand is a tropical country and some places tend to be infested with mosquitoes. But it is important to air your room to let out stale air. Try opening your windows in the morning or evening when it’s not hot to cool off your room instead of using the aircon.
7. Bring a shopping bag with you.
When you do your shopping, it cuts down all the plastic bags that every single vendor will provide you with. I bought mine 5 years ago and look, it’s still alive and kicking.
8. Go for a yoga class, walk in the park, meet up with a friend instead of buying something when you’re down.
I know it’s easy to find cheap stuff in Thailand. But do you really need them? Or do you need it only for today?
9. Repurpose your stale bread with Kathryn’s ideas.
10. Use bar soaps instead of liquid soaps.
There are many cheap and great handmade soaps in Thailand.
11. Ladies, use tampons without applicators.
Just make sure you wash your fingers before applying. Please do not flush them in the toilets in Thailand. The flushing system in Thailand is not that well advance either. And by the way, not all convenient stores or pharmacies sell tampons.
12. Turn off the water while you’re soaping during showers.
Not only does it encourage eco-friendly life , it also cuts down your water bills.
13. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.
14. Get your food from local fresh produce.
Check out cool local farmers markets around Bangkok or some other areas instead of packaged supermarket produce. Here’s a few links for you to begin with:
15. Switch to LED bulbs.
Not only does it cut down your bills, it lowers the number of bulb changes too.
16. Plan your meals in advance and the quantity to prevent waste.
And try innovative fried rice with your leftovers. Try using IBM Chef Watson’s website. Just key in the ingredients you have leftover and it’ll suggest some great recipes for you.
17. Support local products and sustainable businesses
These people make a bloody effort to make a living and at the same time spare a thought for the next generation. This cuts down imports too and there are many good and healthy options out there. But do some research and watch out for greenwashing.
18. Invest in good quality tools if you use them regularly.
It is worth the money instead of those ‘last 1 week’ cheap made in china products.
19. Repair or reinforce your shoes in a local cobbler.
They’re not as expensive as new shoes and sometimes they make them even stronger than you you just bought them. I’ve got some worn off soles replace for only 200baht and they were more comfortable after that too.
20. Get the local seamstress to repair your torn dress, shirts or pants.
21. Eat out instead of bringing them home if you don’t have the time to cook to save those unnecessary styrofoam and plastic packages.
22. Line dry your clothes instead of using the dryer.
Make good use of Mr good old Sun that is always here in Thailand.
23. Use tea towels and rags instead of paper towels more often.
They could be washed.
24. Google your trips.
If it’s less than 30 mins and if the weather is not too hot, try walking.It serves as great exercise, and you can explore your neighbourhood too.
25. Use the bidet or the sprayer.
This is extremely common in Thailand and some parts of Asia. But not so in America. Bidets originated in France in the 1700’s. Most modern city dwellers are used to toilet paper and find that hard to accept. But bidets are very common in Thailand. Nowadays they’ve even come out with the japanese style bidet that requires no electricity. You’re not talking about expensive japanese models that warm your butt while you do your business. We’re not in a cold country. Our butts are sweaty after the end of the day. Most caucasians will see bidets as something meant for the elderly, or anyone who has difficulty turning 180degrees back. But this sprayer help cut down on urinary tract infections and wash things away rather than wiping bacteria in and around your skin, drying your skin up and leaving traces of toilet paper in there. After we’ve used the bidets, it was hard for us not to have bidets around. Plus you’ll be saving toilet paper and water. (a roll of toilet paper takes 37 gallons of water to make according to kathryn)
26. Bring your own thermal cup for your daily coffee or tea doses.
The baristas will not say no to that. I’m not advertising for Starbucks here but everyone are just so attached to them here. And gosh how many people fall for their mugs!
27. Keep a bucket in your shower and use the collect water to water your plants.
28. Wrap your presents with old papers.
Be creative with your wrapping to make it look good. It doesn’t have to look like a packet of Phad Thai or Fried Rice!
29. Reuse your old toothbrushes.
They could be used to clean the small ends around your house instead of buying new brushes.
30. Take the bts instead of taxi or tuk tuk.
What more can I say? Decreases pollution means better air. Better air means better health.
31. Avoid receipts if possible.
If unnecessary, like atm receipts, we can simply skip that to reduce waste.
32. Buy a tea strainer and use loose tea leaves instead of tea bags.
Loose teas leaves are more economic and actually tastes better because the tea leaves are entire and not grinded tea.
33. Buy rolls of industrial tissue paper instead of small packaged toilet paper.
You can buy these in places like Makro, Homepro, Homemart, etc. It’s really much cheaper in the long run. I hang them in my bathroom with an old belt to my towel hanger. It works just fine.
34. Limit your number of flip flops and shoes.
Buy in colors that are more neutral so that it fits what you’re wearing. You dont need so many pairs of shoes. You’ve got only two feet.
35. Buy good phone chargers and cables instead of cheap china made 100baht stuff.
I couldn’t stress enough. I’ve got some phone chargers at 100baht and they started melting their way off while it charges my phone or that the cables wear off after a week or two. So are we saving anything?
36. Buy phone covers with protection on the front screen too.
I know it’s easy to change your cracked phone screens in Thailand (about 1,000-2,500baht depending on phones) but good phone covers are cheaper! Some phone covers even allows you to fit in some credit cards and your rabbit cards in. They’re more convenient and protects your screen at the same time.
37. Buy your clothes in vintage markets.
Here’s a few markets you can scout on:
The two rod fai markets.
38. Don’t throw away your used coffee powder.
They serve as great fertilizers for your plants in the garden. Here’s some great tips from plantcaretoday.com on how to use coffee grounds in your garden.
39. You don’t need to buy fridge deodorizer.
You can either keep your used tea leaves and put them in the fridge or you can grow your own pandanus leaves (also called Bai tooey in Thaiใบเตย ). A very fragrant plant that locals used to cook their rice with to give extra fragrant. They also use these leaves for dessert, as medicine and deodorizer for shoe cabinet and fridges.
40. Keep the bottles and refill them with reverse osmosis water.
1 baht fills up about 1 litre of water. The system is pretty easy to use.