July 1 – let’s get this started

The day began with a visit to ABCs and Rice school to set up an area for the senior class to put their plastic for the month. The teacher who’s been helping out my weekly class here at Mr Thorn from the farm were on hand but really Mr Thorn did it all, we provided encouragement and posed for the photos! He let us help a bit 😉

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Then a bit of admin work before going to meet up with representatives from the main organisations supporting the campaign. We ended up being a small group but we felt like we had some immensely productive discussion. One of the topics being tackled in Siem Reap at the moment is the use of plastic straws. Many organisations have made a change to bamboo, though I still feel like we don’t really need a straw all the time anyway. Sara from Haven Training Restaurant said they never give a straw unless their customer requests one, which is 4-5 per day. She feels this was still really damaging for the environment but wasn’t sure about being able to clean bamboo straws well. So they did some experiments and have found they can effectively clean, then sterilise the straws in boiling water before they get used again – brilliant!

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Nesa from JWOC teaches the students science with a strong focus on the environment and wanting to make changes to how we see plastic. She was happy to take a bit of food away in the biodegradable packaging that New Leaf Book Cafe supplied.

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From this meeting, Sara and I went over to Haven – today was a special day for the team at Haven – they were receiving their goody bag kits to help them in their Plastic Free July commitments, plus a ‘dilemma’ bag for when things don’t quite go as planned. They’re starting with 1 week of trying to use no plastic…

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Next meeting; with a friend starting to look at introducing biodegradable shopping bags. Early days but he had some samples which were great to see! and touch! They’re strong, they feel nice and the even smell natural! My colleague Sambath then joined us for a quick game plan discussion pre the launch party in the evening. The first ‘dilemma’ for me occurred here. Despite asking for no straw… my drink order came with a straw! Then Sambath embraced the opportunity to talk to the manager and he got them signed on to give up straws for the month of July! Brilliant!!

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Then it was time to spruce up and get to the venue! Swing by the restaurant doing the catering – who were a generous supporter of the event, then get ready at Long’s Bar the venue chosen to launch Plastic Free July due to their eco friendly attitude.

As people flooded in it became even more apparent how much people care about this issue and it was wonderful and reassuring that we can make a difference. A brief speech explaining how the campaign works and some excellent questions from the crowd and my was it a crowd!

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At the end of the month we will donate any collected plastic to local NGO/projects that are reusing plastic waste to create great things! Rehash Trash will take plastic bags and make fancy handbags and cute nesting bowls. Eco Soap will be able to distribute more of their soap to NGOs and hygiene projects when we give them more containers for the soap and Husk will use all the little bits and pieces in their plastic bricks project. Just great work by all!

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More for you soon, in the meantime, take care of each other and take care of the planet.

Sarah x

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