Thailand starts 2020 with plastic bag ban, Thai people make it fun
January 5, 2020 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Thailand started 2020 with a ban on plastic bags at all major stores, following an initial phase where people were encouraged to voluntarily refuse plastic bags when shopping. They hope to achieve a total ban for all retailers in 2021. While these bans have often been met with frustration, many Thai people got innovative and had a little fun with it to kick off the new year, sharing photos of what they were using instead of plastic bags in a Facebook group.
(Link goes to a non-Facebook site with some of the images that also contains a link to the Facebook group for those that choose to use Facebook)
posted by primalux (23 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
We just started a plastic bag ban here, and I am so so ready to start rocking some of these looks. I mean, I've been shopping with a straight up wicker basket for years because that's the kind of weirdo I am. But now I can take it to the Next Level. I am digging so many of these innovations...
posted by stoneweaver at 4:51 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Using luggage is genius and yet so totally obvious.
posted by toastyk at 4:59 PM on January 5 [19 favorites]


Love this so much--choosing a sense of play, amusement, and I would even say pride as the emotional framework of making collective change. I too feel inspired to graduate from my usual totes and serve some bucket looks at the least. Also didn't realize Thailand banned plastic bags as of this year and amazing to see the progress made with the first bit of the campaign last year; ไชโย!
posted by youarenothere at 5:00 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


My favorite is the wheelbarrow - why DONT we use something designed to quickly get lots of heavy objects from one place to another quickly. I also liked the backpack laundry basket but those things aren't very strong in my experience. I wish they would go ahead and ban them here if they want to ban them instead of cashiers asking me incredulously if I'd like "a bag?????" to carry the 20 different things I bought. It's not going to make me start being able to remember to bring a dozen reusable bags everywhere I go.
posted by bleep at 5:25 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


When I was living in SF and I walked to get my groceries, I definitely used a small rolling suitcase to cart my stuff home. I had one of those metal folding grocery carts, but honestly the luggage was just easier to maneuver around in the store and was more sturdy for walking down the sidewalk.
posted by primalux at 5:51 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Still, it's frustrating to see people using alternatives to single-use plastic to tote their little plastic bottles of water home. Baby steps, I know. But it's frustrating. I've been on a mission to rid my life of the stuff, and it's JUST EVERYWHERE. Hats off to everyone doing the same.
posted by heyho at 6:17 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


This was more of an adaptation to not driving than to not using plastic bags, but I recently wheeled 3 cu.ft. of compost the two miles from the garden nursery to my home in a child's wagon.

A long time ago, when living in a smaller town and starting a backyard flock of chickens, I walked to the nearest farm supply in the next town over -- 8 miles of county roads. Picked up an old-fashioned steel waterer and other necessary items; put everything in the waterer, lifted it by the handle and walked back with it. Halfway I encountered a tree with some weird fruit on it I'd never seen before and stuffed a few of them into the waterer (they sadly proved to be inedible). Anyway, that's probably the oddest container I've used to tote things from the store -- chicken waterer.
posted by aws17576 at 6:43 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


This seems like some kind of initiative of Big Bucket.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:00 PM on January 5 [9 favorites]


The Thai people have a delicious sense of humour.
Yes they do. After the Asian financial crisis a Mercedes-Benz dealership in downtown Bangkok was converted into a Market for the Formerly Rich where residents gleefully sold the jewels, cars, and other crap they had accumulated during the boom times.
posted by mono blanco at 7:14 PM on January 5 [13 favorites]


I'm currently in Vanuatu and they've banned single use plastic bags and most of the stores don't even offer an alternative you can buy. You either come with a bag or you're balancing your items walking home.

They were also the first country in the world to ban plastic straws.

Yet I live in Toronto where people can't get it together enough to work this shit out. It's ridiculous. I visited the shop where I buy my deodorant before I left and declined a bag and the guy seemed offended and asked why. His bags have open flat like a gift bag and have friggin fancy rope handles. What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Absurd.
posted by dobbs at 7:32 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Some years ago I was plagued by pigeons roosting on my apartment balcony. I decided that maybe one of those hollow plastic owls might be sufficient to ward them off (spoiler: it was not) so I put it on my mental list to pick up.

A few days later I was out to pick up a few things at the grocery store, which was located a block beyond the hardware store where I intended to buy my owl. My plan has been to purchase the owl on the way home. It was a Sunday afternoon, and while I knew the grocery store was open until later, I noticed as I reached the hardware store (about to pass by), that it closed at 5:00 PM on Sundays. It was at that point something like 4:43 PM and I realized I would be cutting it close to walk to the grocery store, make my purchases there, and return here for an owl. Accordingly, I changed my plan, stepped inside, and bought the owl first.

A few minutes later I was at the grocery store where I had purchased my three or four small items. The cashier asked, “Do you need a bag?” I responded, “No, I have a hollow plastic owl, thanks,” and tossed my groceries inside the inverted bird.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:42 PM on January 5 [72 favorites]


Albuquerque banned plastic bags starting Jan. 1, 2020 (and almost banned other single-use plastic waste, but didn't go that far). A grocery chain in neighboring Rio Rancho opted to stop carrying plastic bags, because they wouldn't be delivered to other regional stores.

Similarly, I wonder if there'll be a tipping point where enough countries ban plastic bags that they become a rarity, and not the norm, world-wide.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


I love these images! Let’s talk about reusable bags and totes. There are a billion in circulation. Retailers should have a take a bag, leave a bag area. It would help so much!
posted by amanda at 9:42 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Bleep since they banned them here one often sees even complete bogans carrying a durable tote/bag, even flowery ones! That's bags not bogans.
posted by unearthed at 12:02 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school, there was a riot that shut down the school for a week. We were not allowed to carry knapsacks when we returned.

I bitterly complained about this to my father. My books were heavy and a few kids kept breaking into my locker. “Well, why don’t you bring a wheelbarrow to class?” he asked. “Or get a bucket. The rules only say you can’t have a bag.”

Twenty-five years later, this story breaks. My dad is probably laughing somewhere on the other side.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:09 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


These are very clever! I love the large sugar bag and the wheelbarrow.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:52 AM on January 6


I really want to tell the woman with the ice cubes carried on a string that this will not work out well for her.
posted by pangolin party at 4:42 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


It's mentioned in the Reuters article a bit, but I'd love to learn more if there's any impact on the absolutely ubiquitous use of plastic bags for takeaway food and drinks, and in the most literal sense.

Where in the US/Canada you might get a Thai curry in a plastic/styrofoam/paper container that is then placed in a plastic bag, in Thailand by far the most common packaging is to store the curry directly in the plastic bag, especially when buying from a street vendor or market. I'd be curious to see if there's change in this widespread use of plastic bags.

Still, it's frustrating to see people using alternatives to single-use plastic to tote their little plastic bottles of water home.

While I'm not going to outright defend this behavior (I personally also avoid using single-use plastic water bottles where I live, in the US) it's a bigger challenge in places like Thailand than in places like Western Europe or North America, indefensible situations like Flint aside.

The quality of Thai tap water varies enormously, especially once you get out of Bangkok, and so most Thai people avoid drinking it. Treatment in plants, especially in Bangkok, is at global standards but pipe quality and maintenance vary enormously. And visitors are normally advised to avoid drinking the tap water unless boiled or treated.

Again, not completely defending it (there are solutions, like home treatment or using water-refill stations) but it's not exactly an analogous situation to where many Mefites might be coming from.
posted by andrewesque at 8:17 AM on January 6 [13 favorites]


I really want to tell the woman with the ice cubes carried on a string that this will not work out well for her.

It's probably a smart necklace in hot climates though.
posted by heyho at 8:24 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


...I'd love to learn more if there's any impact on the absolutely ubiquitous use of plastic bags for takeaway food and drinks, and in the most literal sense.

Well, Maine restaurants can't use styrofoam containers any more, which I think is good for the environment but will probably be bad for food waste, per https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20190502/this-state-just-became-first-to-ban-styrofoam-containers

And a town in Rhode Island tried to ban styrofoam containers in 2018, and all sort of industry types showed up to shout down the idea: https://www.ecori.org/government/2018/3/30/statewide-bag-ban-is-a-slog
posted by wenestvedt at 8:35 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


It's probably a smart necklace in hot climates though.

Ooh, I like that idea. I often put an ice cube under my sun hat on hot days but this takes it to the next level!
posted by aws17576 at 9:50 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


but will probably be bad for food waste

What? Like the minimal and short-term food waste of tossing a half a BLT? There's so much waste around that half a BLT once it's made that not consuming it seems the least of the problems. Or am I missing something?
posted by amanda at 10:10 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I think the Girl Scouts should solicit donations of the many, many excess reusable tote bags and sell them when they sell cookies. I go to my Goodwill Outlet, and there are tons of them. I have a curated collection of excellent reusable bags. Now I will look for an owl.
posted by theora55 at 3:38 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


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