If you follow eco-friendly lifestyle principles, your heart might be bleeding observing piles of trash, tones of plastic and mountains of styrofoam used daily in Cambodia. According to the recent research from the ACRA Foundation, around 10 million of plastic bags are used in Phnom Penh every day. That is 3 billion 650 million bags a year!
But let’s put the negative sentiments aside and admit that over the recent years Cambodia has made an enormous progress, and despite the many challenges, step by step we are seeing positive change happening now.
In April 2018, the Ministry of Environment launched a new regulation to charge customers for the use of plastic bags. Major supermarkets such as Aeon and Lucky started charging for the plastic bags: 400 riel ($0.10) per bag. Growing attention to the issue of waste management and the implementation of new sustainable solutions both from governmental institutions and communities, as well as businesses are enabling the change to happen.
Join Facebook community GoGreen Cambodia to share ideas, learn about events and opportunities. GoGreen Cambodia also regularly runs volunteer cleanups in Phnom Penh, having organised the biggest one across the country during the World Cleanup Day. This event gathered thousands of participants in September 2018. The one in 2019 will take place on September 21.
Say no to plastic bags and plastic straws. Get some shopping bags and storage containers for the daily usage. Or choose an eco friendly alternative – cassava bags from Cleanbodia , or collapsible silicone coffee cups from Only One Planet, for example. Carry with you some bamboo, metal straws, or silicon straws which you can get from Only one Planet,Natural Garden or Eleven One Kitchen in Phnom Penh. In Siem Reap, find reusable straws at Peace Cafe, Footprint or Babel Eco-shop.
Did you know that you can sell your aluminium cans, plastic bottles and cardboard to street trash pickers? If you do not want to sell – just donate; they need the income. Trash collectors are normally moving through the city with their trolley, shouting “Agile” while searching for valuable items. If you separate your waste you would make sure they notice and spend less efforts and make less mess. There are also some other opportunities to contact organizations and donate unneeded items to be recycled, check out the list here.
More and more restaurants are joining the movement, serving biodegradable straws and packaging. Support these responsible businesses and motivate others to join the movement. You can find sustainable businesses on Clean Green Cambodia’s platform as well as Go Green’s list of restaurants (both lists are being updated with new information regularly).
Join and support eco-friendly events. Talk to businesses and politely explain your concerns about single use plastic. Share information and resources, support organisations that support the environment.
We all share one planet. We might be coming from different countries, speaking different languages, have our own ways and ideas, but by taking small actions, starting with our own lives, we can make real change. For the planet, for the future and for a better life!
GoGreen is a group of people based in Phnom Penh, passionate about our planet. They lead several actions and events in the city and have an active community on Facebook to raise awareness about environmental issues in Cambodia. Check it out here.