The Banteay Srei district administration in Siem Reap province launched a plastic-free campaign for Khmer New Year by encouraging vendors to use lotus and banana leaves for packaging – in a drive to reduce the use of plastic and protect the environment.
District governor Khim Finan said that with the voluntary participation of all vendors on the roads through Preah Dak commune and village, authorities hope to launch the campaign “Plastic-Free Preah Dak” for a full week from April 11-17 through the Khmer New Year holiday.
He added that the move came after seeing the rubbish that always piles up following a festival, especially plastic food packaging, which ends up dumped on public streets.
The administration encouraged Preah Dak villagers to get into the habit of declining offered plastic bags and to raise awareness of reducing the use of plastic with visitors to the village, which has now become a tourist attraction. The campaign will also serve as a reminder that they should not dispose of garbage in an untidy manner.
“Most of the vendors and traders in Preah Dak village who sell grilled chicken and frogs will turn to using lotus leaves, banana leaves and banana strings for packaging instead. It is a better choice for the environment and supports the use local raw materials as well,” he said.
He added that those stores that follow the guidelines best and set an example for others will receive certificates and participation prizes from the district administration after the event.
Finan went on to say that while the Siem Reap provincial administration celebrated the Siem Reap Sangkran event, the district administration would hold a procession of giant scarecrows in Preah Dak village on April 13. This programme should attract tourists to the village and encourage them to buy cakes, food and other village products, giving locals the opportunity to earn extra income and improving the local economy.
The district administration provided more than 200 small peacock plants – donated by philanthropists – to the villagers and asked them to decorate the space in front of their homes and to keep the village clean. They are expected to manage garbage, and preserve an attractive environment before and after Khmer New Year. It is hoped this will build the village’s reputation as a model heritage village and a tourist destination.
Yan Sophea, a member of the environmental youth group Creal Cambodia, said the project was a good initiative that should reduce plastic use and raise awareness among the participants who come to the event. He asked all people to join the government in reducing plastic bags use – or recycling them – to enhance the environment.
“Wherever possible, we should not use plastic until it is unavoidable. For example, when we visit the market, we usually know what we are planning to buy, so it makes sense for us to prepare bags and or containers from home. This is just one simple way that we can reduce plastic use,” he said.