Mindful Monday: “Just Say No” to Plastics

Are Mushrooms The New Plastic? | Crisp Green.

Continuing our “Post A Day” quest– Mondays are “Mindful Mondays” here at the GotPassport household.  The article cited above, about a more earth-friendly packaging material is a good reminder that we should be more mindful, at the point of purchase, of where the product and packaging will end up after its useful lifespan.  For the product, it might last a few months, hopefully years.  For the packaging, the lifespan might be a few hours, or days it takes to ship to you.  We cringe each time we order takeaway from a restaurant or street vendor, as so much plastic and/or styrofoam is used, only for those precious few minutes to transport it from there to our apartment.

It’s time we wake up and pay attention to where the waste eventually ends up – landfill, recycled, reused, etc.

We do see a slowly growing green movement by some food vendors here in Chiang Mai, who use banana leaves to wrap the food.  However, when they put the food, wrapped in a banana leaf, into a plastic bag, it’s a sign that we have yet to see creative alternatives to the ubiquitous plastic bags used for just about all types of products.

When possible, we choose to do the following, as a way to decrease the wasteful use of plastics:

  • Dine in instead of takeaway, especially if the food vendor uses washable flatware and silverware.
  • Don’t order more than we can eat.  No leftovers, no doggie (plastic) bags.
  • Carry our own set of metal silverware – spoons, forks, and stainless chopsticks, too!  Disposable chopsticks are wasteful, and it helps us to say “No” to plasticware.
  • On occasion, we even bring our resealable glass containers (in our own small cooler) for the food vendors when we order takeaway.  Surprisingly, no one ever looked at us weird, and proceeds to put the dish in our ‘dish.’
  • Say “NO” to plastic bags and straws at 7-11 stores.
  • And… the often mentioned reusable water bottle and cloth grocery bags.  This is common knowledge now, but how often do you say “Shoot, forgot the bags…” when you arrive at the market?  We try to keep ours in the storage bin of the motorbike or bicycles.
  • Also, drinking water dispensing machines are everywhere in Thailand (we think, we know they are everywhere here in Chiang Mai), and costs only 1 baht per liter or less.  Refilling just makes sense, than buying jugs of water every day.  We also boil our own water daily, to refill our stainless steel bottles.

So, don’t forget the four Rs: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and our new focus: Refuse.


We Say NO to the Status Quo.

Live Green.  Live Small.  Give Large.  Take Little.

Take Notice.   Take Action.

  9 comments for “Mindful Monday: “Just Say No” to Plastics

  1. January 3, 2011 at 11:28

    I just discovered your blog and I find what you guys are doing so inspiring!
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Amy
    January 3, 2011 at 11:37

    I’m glad you are addressing this issue. I’ve been wondering what to do about the bottled water issue when we come to Thailand and I don’t remember seeing refilling stations last time we were there. Glad to know that is available as we will be traveling with stainless steel bottles. I was thinking about buying some of those stainless steel food containers to bring for food markets. You know the circular ones that clamp shut and don’t leak? They are, however, very expensive in Canada….I wonder if they are available in Thailand? We will also be traveling with reusable bags that take up only a little space in our packs.

    • January 3, 2011 at 11:41

      Hey Amy, that’s awesome!! I’m Canadian by birth, by the way. We like the glass containers (not best for camping), because they are microwaveable, and we try not to reheat food in plastic containers. Yes, there are plenty of the stainless food containers here, especially the ones that are stackable and a carrying handle for all 3 or 4 of them. The water vending machines are easy to miss, if you’re not looking for them. Just be sure to use more than one 1-liter bottle, as it wil dispense more than described. Got splashed to learn that lesson. =) Look us up if you decide to visit Chiang Mai.

      • January 3, 2011 at 12:42

        We’ll definitely be in Chaing Mai. Planning on spending a few months there! And I’m glad to know those containers are available, we’ll save some money and buy them there!

        • January 3, 2011 at 13:09

          We should be here. Look for us and many other friends on FB under Team Chiang Mai if you’ve not found us already. We look forward to meeting another traveling family. Also, if you are planning to volunteer here in Chiang Mai, we can get you connected as well. Many opportunities here.

  3. January 3, 2011 at 16:38

    This is AWESOME! I’m so glad to read about other travelers and bloggers doing their part to help out the environment. Saying that sounds like I do this all the time, which I unfortunately don’t, but it’s hard sometimes (those “forgot the bag” moments). I do my best here in Italy, where they seem to just be catching on, even if that means that (heaven forbid) I have to walk a couple blocks to get the the cardboard/paper bin rather than it being just outside my door with the garbage bin!

    I miss the takeaway containers in Australia! They were re-usable plastic sealable (like Tupperware) so they were super handy for when you did decide to pack your own lunch as well! The Aussies got the right idea there!

    • January 3, 2011 at 17:37

      Hey Annie, thanks for dropping in! I’m very excited about all the comments we’ve received about the “mindful monday” post. I thought many parts of Europe banned plastic shopping bags from the stores, or at least they charged a small fee if you used them. I believe the bottom line is the best motivator, that is, one needs an economic incentive to be green. I believe that as resources dwindle, environmental conditions worsen, well will all become ‘green’ eventually. When gas prices in the U.S. spiked, one of my neighbors back in Texas bought a civic and used it for his daily commute and let his Tahoe sit for a while. He was not motivated by ‘saving the environment” but his actions ended up being a small step in the green direction anyway… 🙂

  4. January 3, 2011 at 21:53

    Happy New Year to you and your family…Now I am even more confused having just learned that you are Canadian by Birth…where you born in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. I grew up in Montreal, worked in Asia for more than a decade and now live in Vancouver.
    This is some very good advice you are giving about eating green…I wish we can all adopt them…it would reduce the carbon print and hopefully leave the world as a better place for our children and future generations to live in. Cheers

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