by Alex Robb-Millar
Since November last year, White Elephant Adventures (WEA) has been making efforts to reduce the amount of plastic bags used in the company, with the introduction of bags made from woven jungle vine. These bags are made by rural Khmu tribe people in a village in Oudomxay province, and we estimate we will now save around 5,000 to 6,000 plastic bags a year. It’s great knowing that not only is this better for the environment, but a rural Khmu village is being supported as well. Jungle vine bags are incredibly strong, washable, and can be re-used over and over, with any tears easily re-stitchable.
We still do use plastic bags in certain cases such as for containing wet food, but we are confident the time for even those will soon be coming to an end, with ever newer and more practical alternatives coming onto the market. For several years already WEA have been successfully using biodegradable lunch cartons for the rice which are made from sugar cane fibre and imported from Thailand. Often people and companies are deterred by the sometimes overwhelming thought of a big change all at once, but the key thing to remember is one must take the first step and progress from there, and by doing so can inspire others to follow suit, including local communities who may not have yet learnt about the negatives of plastic etc.
Luang Prabang has made big strides in recent years regarding waste management and plastic reduction, repeatedly winning sustainable city awards, and most recently regaining the top position as the World’s best city to visit for 2019 from the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards. It’s great to work in and be part of a community with such a strong drive to improve, with regular community led clean up days and places offering free water bottle refills. For anyone reading, the White Elephant Adventures’ office is also one of the water stations around town where travellers may refill their sustainable water bottles for free.