What can be done to reduce the use of plastic?
In Laos, the use of plastic bags is widespread, in markets, street food stalls, shops and restaurants, and during festivals. Plastic bags are one of the biggest environmental problems on the planet and people in many countries are now taking action to reduce their use. Each day, people in Vientiane use tonnes of plastic bags, far more than is necessary. Raising people’s awareness of the problem is the key to reducing the use of plastic bags. Vientiane asked around for people’s ideas on how this environmental scourge could be tackled.

 

Ms Menu Soundara, a businesswoman: The most important thing is to educate people about the devastating effects of plastic waste. But in Laos this is an uphill battle because most people simply don’t care, and don’t stop to think about the future. It’s important to teach young children about this at school, but schools and parents should also set an example.

Mr Ouan Singsakhet: Most people just use a bag one time only and then throw it away, even though it could be reused. It’s rare to see people saving bags for later use. Vendors give customers a plastic bag even if they buy only one item, and even if that item is already packaged.

Bounphone Khampasith: Laos is still developing and plastic waste and garbage are a permanent problem. We don’t seem to have any idea about proper waste management and disposal, and the government doesn’t seem to be bothered as there are no regulations or attempts to curb the use of plastic in any way. Only a few government organisations care about this problem and very few people show any concern. I don’t know how to change people’s attitudes but I do my bit by asking vendors not to give me a plastic bag if I don’t really need it.

Mr Southin: Plastic bags and bottles litter our highways and byways. People never bring a bottle from home when they’re going out, they just buy another one, such as a small bottle in a plastic bag and a straw, which they don’t really need, and will never use again. Every time you buy something in a shop or market, vendors always put it in a plastic bag, no matter how small the item. We should each carry our own large plastic bag which we can use many times over and always take it with us when we go to the market.

Ms Noun Keomany, a shop vendor: I have tried to reduce my use of plastic. I do this for several reasons – bags cost money, they make the city look a mess when discarded and it’s bad for the environment. I know that sometimes my use of bags is unnecessary, and I’m lazy about keeping my surroundings clean. I think other people are the same, so I often ask my customers if they need a plastic bag when they buy something, but most of them want one even if they just buy a toothbrush. It’s really important to educate people about this issue because people here still have no idea about the terrible impacts of plastic on our world.

Ms Air Phouthasin: These days there are so many plastic bags and bottles on the roadsides and on riverbanks because people just dump them. Plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade and does a great deal of damage but we never bother to calculate how many of them factories produce every day. If we don’t do something about this problem soon, our towns will be in a terrible state.
Ms Buavilay, a businesswoman: Many years ago when we didn’t have plastic, people used other materials as bags and most of them were environmentally-friendly. But now it’s very rare to see anyone carrying a bamboo basket to a market. Of course it’s not as convenient, but it’s not that hard to find alternatives to plastic bags and it would go some way to saving our world from some very tragic consequences.

Ms Seha Hwang, a South Korean student living in Laos: I’ve got careless about reducing my use of plastic in Laos because most vendors always put anything you buy in a plastic bag. It’s a huge problem and public awareness of the issue needs to be raised, as we all use far too many plastic bags. In Laos there aren’t any recycling facilities for plastic, only for plastic bottles. In Korea some vendors and supermarkets use paper bags and you have to buy one if you don’t bring your own bag.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 12, 2018)


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