As the globe prepared to celebrate World Environment Day, The Nation took to the streets to interview Bangkok residents about what they’re doing to help protect their planet.
In line with this year’s theme of “Beat Plastic Pollution”, the interviews focused on actions being taken to reduce the use of plastic and polystyrene foam materials.
Many people knew that it takes years – actually it takes more than 100 years – for plastic trash to completely disintegrate.
Student Arnan Rungcharassaeng, 25, said he realised that avoiding the use of polystyrene foam could help the environment, and said he tried to use recycled material when available. But he admitted to using and throwing away about 12 pieces of plastic and polystyrene foam material per day.
Fellow student Napon Jaicharoen, 22, also pointed to avoiding polystyrene foam as the way to go, but admitted he also still used and disposed of 12 plastic bags daily, mostly from his purchases at convenience stores.
Another student, Kittiya Katthong, 22, said she is willing to use recycled products when possible. She also uses her own lunchbox and water bottle and hence produced only one such item of trash per day.
Office worker Thananrat Wannasilp, 37, said she brought her own bags to grocery stores. Still, she admits to using and throwing away up to seven pieces of plastic and polystyrene material per day.
Officer worker Teerasak Petchyen, 40, who admitted to using and disposing of 10 pieces of plastic and polystyrene foam material per day, said he tried to dine at restaurants instead of getting take-aways.
Another Bangkok office worker in her late 30s, who asked not to be named, said the government should require malls and shops to charge Bt1-2 per plastic bag or foam container to put indirect pressure on shoppers.
“I generally use plastic bags or foam boxes for convenience like anyone else, but if shops start to charge money, I will bring my own shopping bag to avoid paying such a fee. Although a little inconvenient, it seems to be a good idea, as seen in Malaysia [where every plastic bag use is subject to a Bt2 fee] where my spouse is from,” she said.
Meanwhile, several street vendors interviewed by The Nation hadn’t yet made an effort to reduce their plastic or foam use.
One vendor who declined to give his name said he was unsure how he could help reduce plastic and foam trash. He said he didn’t even know how many one-use containers he used per day.
Another vendor, who also requested anonymity, said that he just sold his product without thinking about plastic and foam trash, although he estimated he gave away 50-100 plastic bags a day.