Traveling PALL – Plastic A Lot Less

I´ve just got back from a trip to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. I´m staying in Singapore so it´s relativly close.

I hadn´t been there long, and I was reminded why I´m PALL – Plastic A Lot Less…

River round the corner from where I first stayed
River round the corner from where I first stayed

I´ve travelled PALL – Plastic A Lot Less – before, most recently to India. It´s not much different to Being-PALL, it just takes a bit of preparation. Some very simple, some takes a bit more planning. If you´re already started Being-PALL this is pretty much what you´ll be doing anyway, it´s just remembering to take those habits with you. If not, a holiday and being out of your normal routine can be a good place to start.

(please note; I know how flying is bad for the environment, but if  you´re going anyway you may as well make a bit less impact.)

Firstly I have my toiletries. These are all things I use at home anyway.  Another bonus is they´re solid, so no problem with the liquid carry on at checkout.

  • Solid shampoo, deodorant from LUSH
  • (LUSH have so many PALL products. If you´re not near a store or the smell bothers you, shop online)
  • My toothtabs (rather than toothpaste) also from LUSH
  • A bar of soap (simple changing shower gel to soap saves loads of plastic)
  • Wooden toothbrush
  • My trustie Mooncup (for the girls)
  • Suncream and lip balm from the lovely people at Bee Cool Organics
  • Tea tree antiseptic soap
  •  Then my Klean Kanteen water bottle, which I empty before going through check out and fill again in a bar or restaurant the other side.
  • Light weight canvas bags and a few paper bags. Which I pack in to my daily bag or rucksack so I´m never without.  Just incase I come across tasty things unexpected, no point carrying them all the way there, to then leave in your room!
  • SteriPEN. This amazing little thing meant I could drink any water while I was in India & I didn´t get ill!! It´s a UV light, simple to use. I found out about it via a blog I follow: Plastic is Rubbish and got mine second hand of ebay.
  • Cutlery and a drinking mug (not in picture) the drinking mug I used loads in India and would of had to go with out a lot of chai otherwise (that or accept lots of SUP – single use plastic – cups).

Some habits die hard. We were always made packed lunches as kids so this is normal to me.  Food on short flights is crap and over priced (as well as packaged in plastic).  The food in the airport is also overpriced, though I´m sure can be nice. Still, I hate being ripped of for it so take a packed lunch.

(I hadn´t flown long haul for over 12 years before this year, the food on that is a different story…)

Filling my Klean Kanteen is easy once on the other side.

I understand, that when you arrive on holiday or a trip refusing SUPs might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Unless of course if the first sight you come across are sites like these, which was basically every place in Phnom Penh I went to.  It makes it easier to remember when it´s so in your face!

As always, I refused a straw with every dink I ordered.  They remembered every time to not give me one. Even not speaking the same language, I managed to nicely & rather visually..! – get my message across.


Luckily the first place I was staying there was this amazing grocers downstairs.  I used my canvas & paper bags. The salad was some of the nicest I´ve had in ages.

Loose veg
Loose veg

Near to the second place I was staying I wasn´t so lucky. This day I was with friends in a supermarket so couldn´t just head out & look elsewhere (which is what I would have done if I was on my own, there were local markets everywhere I would have found something quick).

I actually really wanted and onion and a pepper for my dinner that evening, but as this was all the choice I had I went without and made something different.  Sometimes when your BeingPALL – Plastic A Lot Less – you go without, but I survived to tell the tale! Those two trays would have still be on the streets and then the rivers of Phnom Penh forever…

Plastic Pollution was all to obvious in Phnom Penh. Where plastic isn´t moved from site, and instead is piling up, covering the streets & filling the rivers,  it´s hard to ignore how much plastic we´re using.

There are many problems in Cambodia, way more than I´ll ever understand, but the amount of plastic pollution, that they as a poor country are paying for, was staggering.

I wonder, if our rubbish wasn´t being taken away so regularly would we happily use so many single use plastics – SUPs?

It´s easy to criticise other nations, but I meet many westerners who lived and worked in Phnom Penh and used a lot of  SUPs.  Maybe hoping there is still a magic place called “away”? Who knows, but eventually we could run out of space, this is a reminder of where we live could look like, if someone wasn´t removing it out of sight for us. It´s also a harsh reminder to how much we are consuming and is ending up daily in the oceans…

Every refusal adds up, happy travels, happy on PALL-ing!


PALL-ing old freinds

I´m currently staying with old friends in Singapore. They learnt about plastic pollution through me, they´d have no idea otherwise. Busy parents working full time, no beaches to see the tide coming in, every thing moved from sight and like most people – thinking it can be recycled.

Although I didn´t come here to help PALL them, they´d like me to. I´ve been teaching at the school where my friend teaches and we used 3 weeks of our plastics as an example. (I decided to fit in with them the first few weeks, rather then take control of their shopping as soon as I walked through the door!)  I couldn´t help but notice the shock on her face as I poured a couple of weeks of their plastics on to the floor.  It´s hard to know how much we used when it´s all removed out of sight for us.

That was 3 weeks ago and still the plastics keep coming in. Singapore is an unusual situation.  Here it is normal to have a live in maid who does the majority of the shopping, also the packaging is immense here. They live in an apartment, composting is not an option, they have a rubbish shoot that is based in the kitchen.

Over the next couple of weeks I´m going to help PALL them, I´ll let you know how we get on.

Six years living PALL – Plastic A Lot Less – before blogging.

I´ve been Being- PALL Plastic A Lot Less since November 2008, helping many others to become PALL but never actually blogged about it. (you can see my CV above).

Palling - ing June 2011 - It was a friend's idea to make a picture using plastic laying around to show how much I, as one person, had refused in just one night.
Palling – ing June 2011 – It was a friend’s idea to make a picture using plastic laying around to show how much I, as one person, had refused in just one night.

There were many reasons for this;  one I´m not a writer. (I struggle with writing, I´m sure the grammar police will be out in force.  Spell check can´t even work out what I´m trying to say half the time. Feel free to correct mistakes you see and send them to me!) But I am a photographer... so I decided to make my blog visual.

Two; I know that blogging takes time and commitment. What if no one reads it and I feel I´m talking to myself? What if a lot of people do and then I´m caught up in emailing and responding?  To blog six posts one month and nothing for three months is not the idea. My life doesn´t generally have a pattern, so chances are neither will my blog, now I´m thinking maybe that doesn´t matter.

Three, and perhaps this is the most important one; For a while, if there is such a thing – I was TOO passionate. I say a while, I mean years! Everywhere I looked there was plastic and those images in my head; the ones of Albatross chicks slowly dying, Whales beached full of plastic, marine life in all shapes and forms entangled, was hard to shake. I personally encountered a Dolphin, that had died from entanglement and a teenage Leatherback Turtle that had died from ingestion of just one plastic bag.

I was overwhelmed, plastic, it´s every where, killing constantly.  I couldn´t understand, I had my eureka moment, but others weren´t. If I´d of blogged I would have ranted, and that would have achieved nothing!  That´s not to say I didn´t, I did, believe me, just not online world to see…

Hindsight, it´s a wonderful thing. One day, I changed. Just like that (don´t ask me why, I´ve no idea!)  Suddenly I realised what I, and others I´ve been involved with have achieved over the years. Individual actions really do add up, I know that now.

I’ve learnt also, people respond to a more positive approach, to be solutions focused helps others see a different way.

Now I´m in a position to help others who are having that overwhelmed feeling.

Also I wondered; does the world need another blog about plastic pollution prevention?  Now I´ve decided. Yes.  Even though I see a lot of blogs, people doing incredible things, some living plastic free.  Out in the real world, the physical world I walk around in Being-PALL is still a very unique way to live.  The more people actively living it, and blogging their stories and tips the more normal it´ll become.  My good friend came up with the term PALL – Plastic A Lot Less, after that it was hard to forget and time to get on with it!

People are asking me all the time, they have been for a long time; What do you do about this? How do you get by with not using that?  I still have my passion, in fact it´s grown in a positive way.  I´ve been helping people PALL for six years in the real world, now´s the time to also help people I don´t know PALL their lives.

Every refusal adds up.  By PALL-ing ourselves, we help to PALL the world!  Might sound cheesy, but it´s true.

Like I said in my about page, I´m still coming up upon obstacles all the time.  I don´t claim to be perfect, there´s always more anyone can do, but I´ve managed to live PALL  – Plastic A Lot Less for six years, and that´s a good as place as any to start.

Sometimes I might backdate and blog about things I´ve done the six years before, other times it will be new challenges and stories.

So, here´s to the next 6 years of Being-PALL, and blogging. Thank you for joining me.

One walk on the beach, many SUPs cups
One walk on the beach, many SUPs cups