Trash in Southeast Asia


Everywhere in SE Asia there seems to be a very distinct and very visible problem. Trash. It is everywhere you go littering and polluting the landscape. Why you ask? Well, I'm not entirely sure. From what I can surmise the problem is multi faceted. First and foremost, you very rarely see street garbage cans. Yes the larger cities have them in greater amounts than the smaller ones but even in the larger cities refuse still populates the streets, sidewalks, and green space. Secondly I believe public education on trash disposal is lacking. Many times we've seen people just throw plastic bottles, food wrappers, and anything and everything where ever they pleased. In places like Thailand, where the educational system is better and there is a greater trend of affluence the problem is less than places like Myanmar or Cambodia. Another reason I believe is general trash removal. This problem could be due to inefficient government, a small tax base, and even misuse of those taxes by a corrupt system. I can count the number of times I've seen a trash truck collecting trash on one hand. Half of those times were in Thailand. Say what you will about taxes and government in the USA, but at least we have a very good system for getting rid of our disposed items and consolidating them in one place to degrade until the end of time. Yes we should be gearing the efforts on how not to have so much trash. For example, water bottles here are a major source of trash. Get a good sewage and water treatment facility installed that allows citizens to drink the tap water and you can help eliminate that issue (guess you'd just need the money and willpower - sorry I'm an idealist, not a realist). Yes these countries and municipalities need better trash collection and landfills, but they also need to educate their citizens about what to do and not to do with their trash. Seeing someone fish from a river bank littered with god-knows-what is not a good site. On Koh Lipe, Thailand, there is a volunteer program established by local businesses that sets out garbage cans around the city and has a trash pick up program every Monday that employs the use of volunteers made up of concerned citizens and tourists.

#Thailand