How to reduce your plastic consumption while traveling in Vietnam

Plastic has become a worldwide problem and now is the time to do something about it. We all have a responsibility towards plastic consumption and we all need to educate ourselves and others about it. When you’re traveling in Southeast Asia, you can’t help but notice all the trash on the streets and even in the ocean. Unfortunately, Vietnam is one of the countries that has a problem with plastic. It’s estimated that the average Vietnamese household uses an average of four plastic bags per day. The country has been named as one of the worst countries that emits large amounts of plastic waste into the oceans. As a traveler, you might think “what can I do about this? I’m only passing by”, but that’s actually not true. You’re also contributing to the plastic waste when you accept the single-use straws. But you can also contribute for a change. With just minor changes and becoming more aware (and raising awareness!) of your environment, you can make a big change. It’s so important for us as travelers to also make sure we only leave good imprints wherever we go in this world. So, if you’re traveling to Vietnam in the nearby future or you’re already there, here are a few tips for how you can reduce your plastic consumption while traveling in Vietnam.

1. Skip the single-use straws

You’ll notice that whatever drink you order in Asia, you’ll get a plastic straw with it. Although it looks innocent – it’s just a straw right? – it does big damage to our planet. What you can do instead is to opt for the reusable straws such as the bamboo ones or metal straws. You can buy them in several places around the country but it’ll be much easier for you to find them in bigger cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, where there’s a small movement happening. The reusable straws also comes with a little brush so you can properly clean them every time you’ve used them. You can also buy a small bag to carry them in so you never have to accept the single-use straws ever again! Just tell the waiter once you’ve made your order to not give you a plastic straw. Every single time you skip the single-use straw helps.

2. Buy a reusable water bottle

This will not only help the planet but also your wallet! A lot of places offer free water refills, or at least cheaper refills, rather than always having to buy the plastic water bottles. Imagine every time you buy a plastic water bottle, you drink it, you throw it away and it ends up in the ocean. That’s a lot of water bottles just for one person. Imagine for millions of people who do this every day. That’s a lot of plastic. So buy yourself a reusable water bottle made of aluminium or one that’ll help keep the heat or cold, refill it and feel good about helping the planet.

3. Say no to plastic food boxes

Let’s face it – when you’re in Vietnam, you’re probably not going to cook a lot by yourself. The food is inexpensive and so, so delicious. But what we don’t think about most of the time is when we order take away from food vendors, they’ll give you the food in small plastic bags. For every small dish you order, you get a separate plastic bag for it. That’s a lot of plastic consumption for just one meal. But imagine doing this almost every single day! All of these small plastic bags will end up into a landfill and then to oceans, rice fields, forests and even in the stomach of animals. It’s not sustainable. Therefore, it’ll make a huge difference if you just say no to those plastic bags every time you get your take away food.

4. Say yes to reusable cloth bags

Cloth bags are excellent to bring wherever you go because you can put your fruits and vegetables in them, your souvenirs, food, etc. Instead of accepting that plastic bag just so you can bring a pair of earrings, you can put it in your reusable cloth bag instead. Don’t forget to bring your straws, water bottle and food container too!

These are just some of the easy steps you can take towards making Vietnam, and the rest of the world, plastic free. What you also can do is to raise awareness. Many of the locals might not know the harm of plastic waste or they simply don’t have the luxury to care. But it’s a problem which needs to be addressed. Everyone can make a difference and we as travelers can also be part of the solution. We all owe it to nature.

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