(Ab)use of plastic in Bangkok

Elke l’Amie

                           15 September 201822 March 2016

Reduce plastic in Bangkok

Thailand is beautiful, we all know that, but did you know Thailand produces more than 2 million tons of plastic waste per year? Not so beautiful right? And I am not talking about plastic surgery as that is super popular too 😉. A big part of the waste is the amount of plastic we use in Bangkok.

If you have been to Thailand before you probably noticed already how much plastic we use. But how can we reduce this? It might be a slightly more serious subject than normal, but it is something we need to know.

So where do we start?  Let’s start with reducing plastic in Bangkok.

Waste of plastic

7/11 Bangkok


Bangkok’s plastic addiction.

Have you ever bought anything at a supermarket or 7/11 in Bangkok? Did you pay attention to the number of plastic bags you get with your groceries? If you buy one little thing you get a plastic bag. If you buy two things, but one is a drink and the other one is fruit you will get two bags. Add some meat or fish to your groceries and you’ll get a separate bag for that too. And of course, a plastic straw to go with your drink.

Or buy a 1 banana at 7/11, one that you are going to eat right away. If you don’t say no, you will get a plastic bag with this too. While the banana is already wrapped in plastic.

If you say it like this, it sounds a bit ridiculous. But it is the truth. Even I am guilty of it, as I am mostly looking around while everything is scanned and before I know it the cashier already packed everything in 3 bags. (definitely, NOT an excuse, I’m just easily distracted). And it is not only the use of plastic in Bangkok of course, but we also need to pay attention to it everywhere we go.

Or buy a 1 banana at 7/11, one that you are going to eat right away. If you don’t say no you will get a plastic bag with this too. .

beautiful beach covered in plastic

What can you do to reduce the use of plastic in Bangkok or anywhere in the world?

The plastic bag problem is probably obvious to you, as it is too me and I am still guilty of it. (facepalm). But with a few baby steps, we already can reduce the use of plastic. We just have to make it our daily routine.

We all want to keep going to these beautiful Thai islands right? Like Koh Lipe or Koh Samui? (side note, for more beautiful islands, check out my other blog. Best islands to visit in Thailand)

So what can we do to reduce the use of plastic in Bangkok (and the rest of Thailand)?


1) Learn how to say no to a plastic bag

You might not be fluent in Thai, but learning a few words is easy. Well, not easy but at least you can give it a try.

If you don’t need a bag, you say:

Mai Sai Thung Kha  = No bag needed

Or if the cashier asked if you want a bag, you can just say.

Mai Au Kha = Don’t want


2) Bring your own bag to the supermarket or shop.

In The Netherlands, where I am from as you probably know by now, this is already the case. Shops don’t provide plastic bags anymore unless you pay for it. As we don’t like to pay for extra things (and it doesn’t help to reduce plastic), you need to bring your own bag.


3) Stop using small plastic bottles

The biggest thing that I am guilty of with overusing plastic in Thailand is plastic bottles. I lost my reusable water bottle for the gym somewhere and still need to replace it (promise to take care of this asap). I kept buying plastic bottles at the supermarket, which of course is silly. Especially if you workout 4 times a week.

Also at home if you buy a lot of 1,5-liter bottles, why not change to buying one bigger one of 5 liters. Or even better a 19 liter one with pomp, they even deliver these big ones to your home.  Check out the sprinkler delivery system.

If you don’t need a bag, you say ” Mai Sai Thung Kha”

What are hotels and supermarkets doing?

Big supermarkets, as for example Tops, give extra points for your 1-card (customer card) if you say no the plastic bag. 

Restaurants like Brocolli revolution don’t use any plastic straws, but they came up with a better solution. They use an edible straw. A lot of restaurants are reducing the use of plastic in Bangkok. You often see bamboo straws or metal (reusable) straws.

Recently a new hotel opened in the center of Bangkok, AkyraTAS Sukhumvit Bangkok. This hotel is the first single-use plastic-free hotel in Asia. Sounds like an amazing concept.

ASAI Hotel raising awareness sustainability – recycle

More and more hotels want to make guests aware of how to be better for the environment. Recently I was invited by ASAI Hotels to join an event about supporting sustainability and promoting recycling.

The goal of this event was to use waste and recycle it for something good. Together with Bangkok Soap Opera, we made handsoap out of used cooking oil from the kitchen of Dusit Thani hotel in Bangkok. It is good to know many hotels are focussing on sustainability.  

It was a fun event and we made some useful soap out of cooking oil, that otherwise would be thrown away. The first few days the soap smelt a little like springroles, but you had to wait awhile untill all the fragancies blended in.

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