Going Green in Surat #1 – One Week No Trash Challenge

One day while traveling in Vietnam over the break, Kristin and I rented a motorbike and went cruising on the roads around Sapa. We drove to the top of Tram Ton Pass, the area’s highest road-accessible point, and stopped to enjoy the view. While we were looking out over the other side, a guy pulled up on a bicycle. He’d ridden a LONG way up. We offered to take a picture for him and chatted him up for a few minutes. Mike told us he’d been riding his bike for months, all the way from Korea! Long bike treks have always interested me, so we talked for a while before he went on his way. Before leaving, he gave us a card with his blog and told us about his 3 rule ride – no gas, no meat, no trash. It sounded like a really cool concept, and after checking out his site, I got even more of an idea of the reasoning behind it.

Trash PileThe “no trash” aspect really made an impact on both Kristin and me. When my parents visited Thailand, one thing they were shocked at (especially in Bangkok) was the abundance of trash just piled up in the streets, the parks, the markets – everywhere! I don’t know that this is a Thai problem in particular – I think it’s something you can see everywhere around the world. But seeing the extreme in Bangkok really got me thinking about the insane amount of trash we go through and where it ends up. After meeting Mike in Vietnam, we went to Halong Bay and kayaked through one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was breathtaking, it was serene, and it was… extraordinarily trashed. Everywhere we paddled we found plastic and styrofoam floating alongside us. It was disgusting. It was here that we first decided to make a conscious effort to cut back on our trash. And we talked about trying to even progress to almost no trash at some point.

Which brings us here. Tomorrow we’re starting small. Kristin and I are starting a one-week challenge to eliminate the trash from our (over)consumption. When you start planning to do this, you realize it’s no small task. It means not only no useless triple-bagging at 7-Eleven, but also no snack-time pre-bagged pineapple from Thida. No individually wrapped Werther’s candies to get me through the day. It means if we want a Thai tea, we hand them a water bottle and request “sai nai nee” despite the initial awkwardness or confused reactions we’re sure to get. If we want fruit or fried rice to go, we take our own container and make the same request. Obviously, one week isn’t a huge commitment. But it’s a start.

I’m sure we won’t be able to completely avoid trash this week. So while we’re aiming for “no trash”, we’ll also keep a list of  what we can’t avoid, like when they give the farang a to-go cup at a sit-down meal despite the fact that every single other person has a glass… I’ll post again next week with an update on how our week went and what’s next in our effort to “Go Green in Surat!” And if you think you’re up for it, join us.

Also, just because:

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