Check out Facetious Farang Ruth’s post titled “Stuff Thai People Like: Plastic Bags!” My first reblogging attempt didn’t work out so I just decided to link to it instead.
As you may or may not know, I loathe plastic bags. I was a dedicated reusable bag enthusiast back in America, even going so far as to start my own reusable bag campaign during my final semester in college.
I’ve never seen as many plastic bags in my life as I’ve seen here in Bangkok. It was the first thing I noticed, and there has been a draft entitled, “Bag the Bag Bangkok” sitting in my WordPress account for a couple months now that I haven’t had the motivation to finish. I wanted to research the bag statistics of Bangkok (of which I imagine there are very few and even fewer that are accurate) and the solid waste and recycling systems to present a fully-informed perspective on the matter. And maybe I’ll do all of that someday, but for now I think it’s sufficient to comment on the observable facts.
The bag habit here is of a completely different species than the one I was fighting back in Athens; Ruth is right – plastics bags are truly a part of Thai culture. In Athens, the challenge was to get people to remember to bring their reusable bags with them when they went to the grocery store. “Recycle or reuse your plastic bags, and make bringing reusable bags a habit! Look! All of your friends are doing it too!”
Here, plastic bags play such an important role in everyday life…It’s not just about the grocery store anymore – it’s every single food item (or otherwise) you buy on the street (and Thais buy most of their food on the street). Every meal will get bagged and tied with a rubber band, then bagged again. Hot and cold parts of a meal will go in separate bags. Even drinks get bagged, presumably because Thais don’t want to hold something so cold (could this really be the reason?). Unwrapping and recombining your meal when you get home is like opening a gift; it’s emotionally satisfying in a way that reusable bags can’t be.
I wouldn’t even know where to begin in trying to eradicate plastic bags in Bangkok.
How ironic that a plastic-hater like me is living in one of the most offensive plastic bag cultures in the world. It’s hypocritical and I hate it, but I have been sucked in to the plastic bag frenzy. I say “no” when I can, but many times there is no way around it.
BAG THE BAG!
Sometimes, Craig gets iced coffee from a place called Yok New. The coffee comes in a plastic bag, which is placed in a brown paper bag, which is set into another plastic bag. Yeesh…
We politely decline bags all the time. 7-Eleven and Big C employees no longer assume that we want a bag; they ask us if we want one. If nothing else, that’s a step in the right direction.
And the straws!! Don’t forget the straws for your drinks in cans or bottles and the plastic utensils for any food you buy even if it’s clearly sealed and for later.