• What a waste: reflections on rubbish and recycling in Asia

    koh lanta phra ae beach rubbish


    koh lanta beach rubbish phra ae long beach

    I’ve been thinking about waste quite a lot.

    It all started when we packed up our house back home. Moving, I find, always generates a lot of waste. Wasted food, or perhaps wasted money spent on eating out during moving. And, of course, all the stuff that you never quite got around to throwing out, that now urgently needs to be disposed of.

    Then there was the flying. The packaged meals, the individually wrapped blankets and headphones and anything else you can think of.

    After that, we hit Asia, where waste disposal is a work in progress. We don’t have nearly enough public recycling bins on the streets at home, but at least some exist. Not so here. The amount of water bottles alone that must pile up is mind boggling.

    As we travelled through Thailand, we saw too many dumps, recyclable materials all mixed in. On Koh Lanta, one of the quieter islands, there was detritus right on the shoreline, marring an otherwise picturesque setting. Rubbish piles randomly dotted the pavements, next to dwellings, even.

    Simply by way of being there, we were further bound to add to it all, with our countless empty water bottles (recyclable! At home, at least) and our plastic containers from our (very few) takeaway meals. I really feel that making the tap water drinkable would make an immense difference – both in terms of the health benefits of clean drinking water for all, and in terms of the plastic saved.

    Worst of all was when we embarked on a whirlwind four-island day trip, culminating with lunch on the picturesque and remote Koh Ngai, the remains of which would either probably be dumped somewhere there or ferried over to a larger island to be dumped.

    In Koh Lanta I briefly spotted a sign tucked down a quiet alley in the township – something about supporting the island’s first recycling facility with the Skip bin hire Perth. The sooner the better, or there may not be a whole lot left worth preserving.

    But hey, at least I’ve finally used up all my sample size shampoos/moisturisers. Those sachets have finally been put to good use on our travels.


  • In defence of plastic bags

    So Foodstuffs is gonna start charging for plastic bags? Whoop de do. Pak and Save’s been doing it for yonks. And if you can afford to shop at New World, then you really have no cause to complain for paying a few cents per bag.

    (Just as an aside, all the rumours of a Pak n Save being built in New Lynn on my old street were wrong, wrong, WRONG. Nope, it’s gonna be a New World. Like we really need one there. It’s not the wealthiest of suburbs, and we already have the overpriced Foodtown to contend with – although it is 24/7, handy for drunken shopping expeditions or early morning emergencies)

    But I really do have a problem with people who bemoan the latent evils of plastic bags. Tell me, what do you people use to put your rubbish in? Flatmate’s ex used to encourage us not to put bags in our bins. But of course! We could simply WASH out the bin after each emptying, and continue to throw all manner of chicken bones, gristle and rotten food in there, to mention a few!

    Unless you live with clean freaks, there’s no way RINSING a bin in lieu of lining it would ever work. Just. Too. Disgusting. I shudder to imagine what would happen if I tried that.

    Bags serve a purpose. They line our bins and give us something to put our rubbish in, and carry it out to the wheelie bin in. I don’t line our bathroom bin, and I try not to line our bedroom bin. But our main bin needs a bag in it. Even then, it still gets filthy and smelly.

    We have a nice big stockpile of plastic bags at home, thankfully. Before, we used to run out of bags by the end of the week (when we shopped solely at Pak n Save and would buy as few bags as possible. Now we sometimes go to Countdown, where we get bags for free…I know, I know…but to my credit, I did remember to bring our reusable bags last week. Yay!) Without the trusty humble plastic bag, where would we be? We’d be forced to buy the thick black PROPER bin liners, which are SO much worse for the environment and take forever to break down.

    I don’t mind paying for bags. Even if Progressive start charging for bags, I’d still buy enough to hold our rubbish for the week. I just think they are far more useful than the bag-bashers imply. It’s not like they were designed simply to wreak havoc on the environment.

    Plastic bags are not all bad. They do have a use.