Consumerism Feeding Waste in Bangkok

Bangkok Street_01Speaking recently at the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013 in Myanmar,  April Rinne, Chief Strategy Officer at Collaborative Lab, used the fascinating cultural and economic melting pot of Bangkok as a context to expose avoidable waste problems.  In a city where few have much, there is a mounting excess of consumables, ranging from rice to rattan, together with a detachment from communal values.

In the past, Thais were ready to help others. They took turns helping in the rice fields at harvest time, and extended help without expecting anything in return. Those helped didn’t take this for granted, but felt obliged to return the favour. This collaborative culture began to when tractors emerged and relationships between neighbours weakened.

While this concept still exists in some villages, in most of the country, it does not. In housing estates in Bangkok, few people know the names of their neighbours, let alone what they do for a living. During the flood disaster in 2011, one observer suggested that people in housing estates should get to know each other better, so they can help each other in times of need. Given our fast-depleting natural resources, it seems the right time to revive the “good old culture”.

Read more on April’s paper via The Brunei Times

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