Bagless in Phuket
This just in from PATA (Pacific Area Travel Association)which seems to be a great solution to Phuket's mounting problem of plastic bags:
Bangkok-based travel agent Khiri Travel is seeking to raise awareness of the disposable plastic bag problem in Thailand and Indochina. As a practical first step, the company has purchased 1,000 machine washable cotton bags for distribution to tourism partners, villagers and staff in destinations it visits.
The 1,000 'Earth Bags' were manufactured by the Special People Foundation (SPF) at Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The SPF provides meaningful work to Thai people with disabilities. Each bag has a unique design and all are painted individually by physically impaired artists, most of them children from Chiang Mai.
"There are two issues Khiri Travel wants to address," said Frans Betgem, the company's co-founder. "First, the unnecessary and unsightly problem of plastic bags. They take hundreds of years to decompose. They kill river and sea life and they spoil the aesthetic appeal of parks, villages, city streets and canals – many of them tourist attractions. Second, there are 1.2 million people with disabilities in Thailand alone. Giving them viable work at SPF helps their daily survival and their self esteem."
Experts estimate that 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed and discarded annually worldwide – more than a million per minute. Even in developed countries with more advanced recycling facilities, less than three percent of plastic bags are recycled. Plastic bags are typically made of polyethylene. They can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases. In the process they separate into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate soil and water. Visit www.khiri.com.