Trash and Thais

Hi

Today i just wanted to reflect on Koh Lanta´s trash problem. The ones that been driving round on the island or found their way to one of our two dumping sites knows already that it is a big issue. Today i just wanted to address the littering problem and question why we have it.

Living in Thailand can be frustrating at times, you grew up with lots of rules how everything should be. When you move here you realize many things are different, some are better some are hard to understand. For many years i have wondered why it is so hard for Thais to stop littering, it does not matter how many times you point out to someone that it is bad for the environment .. they just cant stop.

I know its not my country and i try every day not to bitch about people throwing things around even though they have the recycle station or a bin close by. I think it is a cultural thing, the other day i sat down with a man from Bangkok, he is well educated and quite well of. As we sit and talk he opens up a pack of cigarettes (Smoking is still considered “cool” in Thailand, it´s my opinion that the majority of people here smokes because they think it looks cool and not because they like it.) and just toss the plastic on the ground even though we are sitting at a table and he could have put it in the ashtray. He don´t think about it, it just is the Thai way. Not everyone of course but many people do like this.

Koh Lanta´s road sides are scattered with litter everywhere and over the years there has been little progress towards change. There is of course activists like Trash Hero and young people that are interested in the environment, but that offers little hope for the future. Going through the small villages around the island and seeing how people live with lots of garbage on their plot of land, they don´t see it or think about it.. it is mind blowing. Until the education about environmentally issues in the schools get better and the government starts to take the issue seriously we have to live with the littering.

If taking care of the environment some day becomes “cool” or people learn about the many benefits of keeping their country clean, Thailand might have a chance until then we have to live with the ideal of the Marlboro man looking casual and cool while throwing some plastic by the roadside.

Have a nice day all, and please don´t litter.

Jan