A great idea good for the environment and good for the people: Rehash Trash.
While I was on my way to the market, I noticed a different shop which I couldn’t quite figured out what it was about. My intuition told me to stop and have a look because it was certainly something to do with recycling by the name of it.
For those of you who’ve never had the opportunity to visit Asian countries, you should know that the biggest environmental hazard is primarily represented by plastic bags. In the past, most Asian countries used banana leaves and bamboo baskets to carry their food and goods around so when those suddenly got replaced by plastic bags, nobody bothered explaining to the people – many of whom are illiterate – that plastic is not biodegradable, on the contrary it is a real threat to everything and everyone.
I do my best here not to use plastic bags but sometimes it is virtually impossible. Even if I go to the market with my own containers, there are some types of food which are sold sealed in plastic bags (just like in supermarkets), like fresh tofu for instance. But I live here, so I have the opportunity to buy containers (yep, made of plastic) to be recycled over and over again. As a tourist, it is not that easy to do it but here are some tips for those travelling in Asian countries.
Do your part no matter how small, many drops of water together form an ocean:
- Carry a thermal bottle with you because in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal, you can just refill your bottle for a very cheap price without any plastic waste. In Cambodia, most guest houses and hotels have free water dispensers where you can fill your bottle.
- Make a little room in your backpack or suitcase for a lunch box so that if you want to buy anything fresh you can ask the people to put it in your box.
- Do not use a straw when you drink, people are very clean and nobody ever got sick by drinking straight from a glass. I’m your living proof, I even drink fresh coconut milk straight from the market without cooking it: delicious! For coconut water, if you are given a straw just keep it and use it for the time being.
- If you are given any plastic bags, wash them in your room and use them again.
- Buy your fresh food from the local market and not the supermarket because they use a lot of packaging just like in the West.
The target is obviously to eliminate plastic altogether but in the meantime, let’s do our best.
Back to my story with the shop named Rehash Trash, I discovered that they are an NGO which recycles rubbish bags and turns them into beautiful and useful items. I actually bought a big laundry basket myself. The women working there are the mothers of several street children who are given the opportunity to make a little income and provide for their kids. They also offer workshops where you can learn how to recycle plastic.
If you come to Siem Reap, do visit them, here is their FB page:
Be proud of yourself live Eco and not ego!