There’s no doubt that travel is an eye-opening experience.
Though, alongside the sought-after experiences: the interesting encounters, flavoursome foods and charming customs, you can also observe the sustainability challenges that are relevant to the local area.
By Gillian Phair
In Chiang Mai, Thailand, the constantly bustling city roads caught my attention. Emissions, yes, off the scale, but my focus shifted to material resource sustainability, as I’d always considered it like the neglected little sister in the sustainability family tree. I wondered to myself, how much vehicle waste was being produced here? Was it being effectively re-used?
Apparently I wasn’t the only one with these burning questions. On a casual stroll one day, I discovered a brand called Ecoism, up-cycling goods from vehicle waste.
Using over a tonne of vehicle tyre waste, they create durable laptop bags, pencil cases, handbags etc. Special mention to the awesome flip-flops that let you leave a tyre footprint – so you really feel that the tyre continues to travel with you in its second lease of life!
This brand also creates vibrant wallets and make-up bags out of rejected packaging material – another ‘behind the scenes’ waste issue.
I think it is fantastic to draw attention to lesser-noticed, but nonetheless significant, resource issues in Thailand. The brand has managed to create beautiful, hardwearing products out of what would be wasted material and missed opportunities!
On the down side, these eco-products all carry a hefty price tag, and definitely aren’t intended for the average Chiang Mai resident. So while Ecoism closes the material gaps in our economy, it tends to push the class-divide in our sustainability paradigm. So is this a passing phase? Or are the wheels stuck in motion?