An Inconvenient Truth: How to Use Less Plastic in Thailand

The effects of our overuse of plastic are being felt across the globe, and Thailand is no different.  In this blog, we’ll cover how to use less plastic in Thailand without changing your travel plans.

Thailand is the jewel in Asia’s crown. Beautiful white sand beaches and warm tropical water draw tourists from around the world, but there’s trouble in paradise. A plague of plastic is slowly creeping over the country, and it’s hard to avoid the sight of rubbish floating in the sea or piling up by the side of the roads.

As visitors, it’s critical that we do all we can to reduce our plastic usage so as to not make the problem any worse. So what are the best ways to lessen your impact on this beautiful place?

How has it come to this?

Plastic is useful. There, we said it! It’s lightweight, strong and portable, and therein lies the problem. It’s the go-to wrapping for food and is often the best option for transporting and protecting goods. Thailand is a rapidly developing country, and it’s no surprise that plastic has become part of daily life here.

The problem is that it’s also energy-intensive to produce and non-biodegradable, so every single scrap of plastic being produced today will still be polluting our planet in hundreds of years’ time. Anyone who’s swum through a sea of plastic bottles and bags will tell you that plastic usage in the country needs to be brought under control, and fast.

As a responsible visitor to the country, of course you want to do your bit to protect the environment and reduce your use of plastic. So what can you do?

Bring your Own

There are a ton of plastic coffee cups all over Thailand. Lessen the load by bringing your own reusable cup. Most cafes will fill up a plastic mug for you instead of dishing out the plastic. It’s cheaper for them, after all!

The same goes for the scourge of many a beach, the plastic bottle. Bring your own Sigg bottle or as a last resort, reuse your own plastic bottle multiple times. Give it a good wash out every day or two and it will carry on going for weeks.

Just say no.

Shops in Thailand LOVE to give out plastic bags, and sometimes more than one at once. You don’t need three different carrier bags from 7/11 just to get those Lays chips home! Take your own bag with you when you go shopping and you’ll be doing the planet a favor.

Similarly, there’s an international campaign under way to get rid of plastic straws. They’re dangerous to sea life and get stuck in storm drains causing flooding to farmland! Either look for cardboard straws or go without. A quick wipe of the top of a bottle is fine to keep things sanitary.


Food delivery service FoodPanda is doing something pretty special. Having identified that the majority of their customers are either at home or in the office when they order their meals, they’ve realized that these people don’t need cutlery to be delivered with their food. Why would you use a plastic fork when you have your own available?

From June 2018 therefore, cutlery will be optional when you order a meal via the FoodPanda website. The hope is that this will greatly reduce the amount of wastage associated with food delivery. Full marks to them for thinking a bit differently!

Recycle, recycle, recycle

As hard as you might try, you’ll ever be able to avoid plastic completely. Make the effort to hunt down the local recycling centers. They do exist in Thailand, you may just have to hunt for them! Many products actually have a monetary value so you might actually get some money back doing this- a win for the planet AND for your pocket!

Every Little Helps

It’s the little things that add up. It might not feel like much, but if every visitor to Thailand followed these simple steps then plastic usage would fall immediately. Small changes add up to big effects, and with a country as beautiful as Thailand at stake, it’s well worth the effort.

If you found value in this article, you’ll love your guide to visiting ethical elephant sanctuaries and our blog on the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project.