Is there any chance for an eco-friendly Cambodia?

Natalja Rodionova and the team from GoGreen Cambodia are the experts in living an eco-friendly lifestyle in Cambodia. They’ve written this blog post to give Move to Cambodia readers some ideas for how they can living a more ecologically responsible lifestyle in Cambodia.

bamboo straws Cambodia

Many cafes in Cambodia have replaced single-use plastic straws with reusable ones made of bamboo.

If you believe in being eco-friendly, the piles of trash all over Cambodia and the mountains of plastic and styrofoam used daily in the Kingdom of Wonder will make your heart bleed. According to recent research from the ACRA Foundation, around 10 million plastic bags are used in Phnom Penh every day. That is 3,650,000,000 bags a year! But all is not lost. In recent years Cambodia has made enormous progress in improving its environmental impact. Despite the many challenges, we’re now seeing positive change happening step by step.

In 2018 Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment launched a new regulation requiring that vendors charge customers for the use of plastic bags. Major supermarkets such as Aeon and Lucky started charging 400 riel ($0.10) per bag. Meanwhile local communities, businesses, and government institutions are paying more attention to issues of waste management and sustainable solutions. Many local restaurants are committed to finding ways to avoid single use plastics, such a switching to reusable drinking straws. Change is happening.

What can we do to further that process? Actually, quite a bit.

Get involved

We may speak different languages and have different ways and ideas, but we all share one planet. By taking small actions, we can help make real change. Talk to businesses you regularly patronize and politely explain your concerns about single-use plastic. Support organizations that support the environment. You can start by joining the GoGreen Cambodia Facebook community to share ideas and learn about events and opportunities. GoGreen Cambodia regularly organizes volunteer cleanups in Phnom Penh, including the country’s largest during World Cleanup Day in September 2018, an event that gathered thousands of participants in Cambodia’s capital. The 2019 edition takes place on September 21, so mark your calendar. There are also often locally-organized events in Siem Reap and around the country.

Cambodia litter

The beautiful Cambodian countryside is often marred by litter. How can you help?

Separate your trash

Did you know that you can sell discarded aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard for extra cash? Or consider just donating your trash—the pickers need the income. The recycling collectors roam the cities with carts filled with recyclables, shouting “edjai” and often honking a plastic horn to draw attention to themselves. If you don’t mind forfeiting the proceeds, you can leave your recycling outside of your door, or with a neighbor or staff member who will happily do the transaction for you. There are also other opportunities to donate unneeded items to be recycled.

Dine at eco-friendly places

More and more restaurants are using biodegradable straws and packaging and shunning plastic bags for take-away. Support these responsible businesses and motivate others to join the movement. Here’s a list of the eco-friendly restaurants in Cambodia we at GoGreen Cambodia know about. It’s being updated with new Information regularly.

Review your own consumption

You can do your own small part by saying no to plastic bags and plastic cups. Get some reusable shopping bags and storage containers–for example, eco-friendly cassava bags from Cleanbodia, and collapsible silicone coffee cups from Only One Planet. Instead of using plastic straws, carry your own bamboo or metal straws, which you can get from Only One Planet, Natural Garden or Phnom Penh’s Eleven One Kitchen.

6 Responses to Is there any chance for an eco-friendly Cambodia?

  1. gaplem says:

    The most famous part:
    In recent years Cambodia has made enormous progress in improving its environmental impact.
    haha, still laughing.

    • Natalja says:

      Well, if we look back at 3 years ago – there is a progress, obviously. The issue is being noticed. It was not on the agenda before. More and more activities taking place, more organizations are being engaged. Yes, lots of work to be done.

      • Grace Smith says:

        gaplem, I understand your point of view. From an uninformed perspective, without understanding latest policies put in place (albeit far too little has been done, but some change has happened indeed), then it can seem like there isn’t much hope. BUt a LOT more is going on behind the scenes than one would imagine and having direct insight into some of the projects at the Ministry of Environment in terms of behavior change and solutions, there has indeed been a LOT of change. Think back to 4 years ago, and looking at the systems in place now, … well, Rome wasn’t built in a day… and Cambodia’s issues won’t all get fixed immediately. but some great steps have already been set in motion.

    • Natalja says:

      We would love to update the list with Siem Reap restaurants, but since most of our members are in Phnom Penh we need some help from the SR community.

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