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Things I’ve done to reduce my plastic footprint

by Aleisha Keating 

Back in January, I wrote about how much plastic waste I am generating while living in Thailand in 31 Days of Plastic and then I explored ways I could reduce this in Towards Plastic Free. As I discussed, escaping using plastic is quite a challenge here in Thailand, more so than if I was living in Australia or New Zealand. Here’s an update on my successes and failures on my goals:

Reduce breakfast packaging – After realising the astounding number of small yoghurt containers I’d collected in one month, I pledged to reduce the amount of packing I use for breakfast foods. I decided one way would be to make my own yoghurt.

I’ve just made my first batch using kitchn’s recipe. It’s a dairy based one, but I hope to try using coconut milk next. It’s lasted me a week so far and I’ve still not finished. It tastes good, but a little gloopy. The consistency, which is probably related to the type of yoghurt culture I use, could be improved upon. The only ingredients were some milk and a small container of yoghurt for the active culture. While I still used some plastic, it has greatly reduced my overall waste.

Toiletries – I found an ethical brand of shampoo which comes as a bar in a small cardboard box, called Ethique. It’s very portable, smells great, uses very little packaging, and is approved by my hair and scalp. So far I’m liking this and it’s great for travelling too. Products like these might seem a little pricey ($22 NZD for a bar), but they actually work out very cost effective because they last so long. Ethique reckons theirs lasts up to six times longer than regular bottled shampoo brands. I’ve also found a bamboo toothbrush from woobamboo, which is supposedly biodegradable and made from sustainable bamboo. I initially wondered why it was wrapped in plastic, the label assures me that it is packaged using recycled materials. Phew!

Cold drinks – I’ve been making peppermint tea in a litre jug and chilling it. It makes a welcome refreshment when I arrive home from cycling through the sweltering humidity. I still buy smoothies though, which are often topped with an inescapable straw. Sigh.

Plastic bags – my Thai language has improved ever so slightly, making it easier to refuse plastic bags and utilise my reuseable cloth bags. My efforts seem to be insignificant however, in a place where single-use plastic is so ingrained and often unavoidable. If only I could influence some of the locals I interact with…

These are the things I’ve been doing to reduce my plastic use. I’ve also been impressed with friends, family and the general public starting to transform awareness of plastic pollution into action. We must not stop with plastic though, we need to keep striving to be conscious in all that we do, minimising and avoiding adverse impacts of our actions where possible.

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