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You will use the straw for about five minutes while you enjoy your drink. But the straw will outlive you. Actually, it will even outlive your grand kids if you ever have ones! Thai people love straws. You will get a straw with any, and I mean ANY drink you order. Even if you go to a store and buy a bottle of water, a straw will forcibly be tucked down the (plastic) bag that you get with the tiny (plastic) bottle.
Shopping without getting a bunch of plastic bags is also hard in Thailand. Believe me,
I have tried! I tried shopping with cloth bags and learning the phrase "Mai ao thung" ( = I don´t want a plastic bag) but still, I was mostly considered a crazy western person and sales people would try to pack my stuff in a plastic bag INTO my cloth bag. Even soups, drinks, spices and fresh fruit always come in plastic bags. So there is a lot of work to be done if Thailand, or Asia in general, is ever to become plastic free.
That´s me having a drink with a straw in 2012, last time i visited the promised land of straws.
So is there anything we can do to improve the plastic situation? We can of course consistently keep refusing the straws and the plastic bags, even bring our own straws to the restaurants since it seems almost rude to have your drink without a straw in Thailand. You can politely say no thank you to the straw: "Mai ao laawt, khop khun maak ka". But even better, you can spread the word about "Strawless September". Together we can make this the new Movember, why not call it "Strawember"!
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The contributors to this blog are the marine biologists Maria Koivisto (left) and Anu Riihimäki (right).