Author

Aparna Sharma

Let me begin my article by clarifying that I did not mean getting high on hemp in a literal way, I meant that it is about time we get high on all the amazing properties hemp has to mitigate climate change and become a big player in creating a greener and more sustainable economy.

Unfortunately, every time someone says, ”hemp”, most people relate to it as a drug and there have been endless debates on whether it should be fully legalised. Hemp is not a crop we discovered recently, its origins can be traced back many years. The obvious question is if hemp was widely grown and had amazing properties which benefit the planet, why did it become illegal to grow hemp? There are many different reasons, hemp was about to hit mainstream in the 1930s but America banned it around that time and the rest of the world followed. According to a February 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics, hemp was about to become a billion dollar crop before the Marihuana Tax Act. There is one theory which basically blames Dupont for getting hemp banned because they were launching their synthetic fibres and the rest as we know it today is history. If hemp did not get banned, could we have rewritten some of the history? That is an interesting thought especially now that we know that synthetic fibres are bad for the planet.

Synthetic fibres like nylon gave rise to an industry we now call, ’fast fashion’. This is one of the most polluting industries, two thirds of the world’s textiles are made with synthetic materials mostly, petroleum based polymers such as polyester, polyamide and acrylic. Most people who are aware that plastic is bad for the environment are not aware that the clothes we wear essentially have the same qualities as plastic. It is not only bad for the environment, it is not the best fabric for human health either. The issue with fast fashion goes way beyond fibres and environmental pollution, the idea that a product is meant to be used only a few times and discarded is extremely wasteful. There are multiple stories on how fast fashion companies exploit labour and the business model is fundamentally flawed. Activists and slow fashion advocates have been trying to ensure that there are better regulations to ensure that fast fashion companies move towards a more circular business model. A lot of consumers are demanding sustainability and activists are carrying slogans saying, ’No fashion on a dead planet’.

There are a lot of circular solutions currently: reduce, reuse, recycle, thrift, rewear, repair, regenerative fibres etc. A lot of fashion brands are incorporating this in their business model. Most solutions are driven by consumer activism where consumers are taking a stand on supporting only brands which are committing to a circular economy.

One solution to make fashion more circular is to use regenerative fibres which are circular in design and not wasteful in production. Hemp is definitely something a lot of slow fashion brands across the world are already embracing, it is currently expensive but a lot of designers feel that it has properties which justify its cost. I normally use the term regenerative with lots of caution but I think hemp has some amazing qualities and it is a crop which is definitely regenerative, every part of the crop can be used to create something useful which also makes it a zero waste crop.

I met with the owner of Hempthai to understand exactly how hemp is grown and its benefits for human health and the planet. Unfortunately, I could not visit the farm because Thai law does not allow that, what if I go into the farm and become literally high on hemp? It is frustrating that this amazing crop constantly suffers because it is misunderstood and merely considered a drug. We had a long conversation about hemp and I saw so many different products they have innovated with hemp. I asked him if the claim that hemp can sequester carbon from the soil is true, is it safe to say that growing hemp is better than leaving the land empty. He laughed and said, ”It depends on the exact context, leaving a biodiverse forest as it is would probably be better but there is a lot of agricultural land which is currently being used to grow unsustainable crops which require high pesticides and requires burning, it would definitely benefit the economy and the planet to convert them to crops which mitigate climate change”. 

Growing hemp paves the way for sustainable agriculture because it can be grown without fertiliser, it also replenishes the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients, it increases topsoil and restores the health and fertility of the soil. Hemp trees have long roots that firmly hold the soil which help control erosion, due to its fast growth, it is extremely useful in carbon sequestration absorbing carbon from the air and storing it back into the earth.

At Hempthai, they have empowered an entire village and the whole process is completely organic and made by hand which makes their products sustainable. They have received many reputable awards for their innovation. I was particularly impressed with the bricks they have made, the owner told me that he is going to build his house with hemp bricks. This could potentially change the construction industry, who would not want to live in a house made with hemp bricks which has the tall claim of generating oxygen?

Thailand has legalised hemp cultivation, paving the way to create a green cash crop. This move by the government represents an important attempt by the authorities to establish hemp as a futuristic cash crop which can have economic benefits. Hemp can generate income for growers in five different areas: drinks, food, medicines and supplements, apparel and personal care products. It is a plant which has a multitude of uses and the potential of generating high income for rural communities. As I mentioned earlier, it has zero waste properties and the entire plant can be used for commercial benefits from its flowers, through the leaves, seeds and branches to the exterior and interior of the stalks and even the roots. All these can be processed into high quality everyday use products. Currently, this industry is still in its infancy stage so research and development costs are high and profits remain difficult and slim at present but it has huge potential.

The hemp fibre looks and feels similar to organic cotton or linen and it is perfect to make garments. I am looking forward to seeing a Thai slow fashion brand make a stylish collection using hemp, this fibre needs to be promoted and marketed well. It has thermo regulating properties too. 

Hemp fibre is:

Breathable and insulating

Highly durable

Soft on the skin

Odour resistant

Non-synthetic i.e. no micro-plastics

Naturally antibacterial and anti fungal

Resistant to mould and mildew

Resistant to UV light

Has soil release properties

Easy wash and care

Biodegradable

Retains its shape and will not shrink

Grown without pesticides and or chemical fertilisers

Replenishes the soil

Highly renewable

Low water use 

Absorbs carbon dioxide

Common! It is high time hemp goes mainstream. Do you agree?

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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world. This is a moment of truth for people and the planet alike. Covid and climate have brought us to a threshold and we have to move forward sustainably. The good news is that there is a lot of work being done all over the world to move towards renewable energy and Thailand has created the world’s largest solar floating farm according to news reports. The facility, which generates power on a water surface of 72 hectares, was originally scheduled for operation in December last year, but the launch was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I read an article in Thailand business news which stated that the state run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) expects to operate a 45 megawatt floating solar farm it claims to be the largest in the world this June. EGAT signed a contract with B. Grimm Power Plc, which will serve as an engineering, procurement and construction firm to develop photovoltaic panels worth 842 million baht (28 million USD) on Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, where an EGAT hydropower plant is operating. The floating solar farm is designed to be a hybrid system, working in tandem with 36MW of hydropower generation to increase optimisation capacity.

Local media quoted Chatchai Mawong, EGAT’s director for hydro and renewable energy power plant development, as saying that construction is now 82% complete. Workers began installing the first batch of floating solar panels in December 2020 and are speeding up installation. Under the 2018 National Power Development Plan, EGAT is committed to building more floating solar farms on all nine of its dams nationwide over the next 20 years, with a combined capacity of 2,725MW. It is also planning to adopt a modern energy management and energy storage systems, crucial to store electricity produced by solar panels. Mr. Sarit Witoon, Governor of Ubon Ratchathani province said, having a renewable energy pilot project that is essential for the country is an important step for Ubon Ratchathani province. The hydro-floating Solar Hybrid Project at Sirindhorn Dam will be a model project for developing renewable energy which will not only create stability for renewable energy by using hybrid energy systems, but also promote Ubon Ratchathani province to become an energy learning centre for students, scholars, and the general public. The project will also be developed into a new tourist attraction for the province to increase revenue for the community so it can become sustainably self-reliant.

After reading this article, I wanted to understand more about solar energy development plans in Thailand so I got in touch with Franck Constant, CEO of Constant Energy. Franck has over 20 years of experience working in the independent power industry and 10 years in solar PV. Prior to founding Constant Energy, Franck cofounded Sonnedix, a solar IPP in 2009 and as board member and President developed the business into a global solar IPP fund present in 8 countries, including France, UK, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, with world class development, project finance, construction and asset management capabilities. Franck moved into the power generation industry in 1995 by joining Sithe Energies Inc. in Bangkok where he worked for five years developing Sithe’s power projects and business in SE Asia. During this period, Sithe became Thailand’s leading foreign IPP, with new assets worth over $500 million. He has continued in the power generation industry since 2002., working as Director for Business Development for Sithe in Korea and subsequently for Mirant Asia-Pacific in NE Asia. In these roles, he successfully structured, financed and managed over $1 billion of greenfield power projects and acquisitions for Sithe and Mirant. Franck started an energy consulting firm in 2002 by establishing Asia Energy Resources, subsequently acquired by AWR Lloyd, an energy advisory firm in 2006, becoming a partner in AWR Lloyd till 2010, providing advisory services to oil, power and mining companies.



I asked him about the solar energy development targets for Thailand and he told me that the previous government target was 3GW by 2030, now 10GW by 2030 and they are on track to meet that. His personal view is that solar will be way above 10GW installed by 2030 in Thailand, since it is the lowest cost power source for Thailand, especially with recent 3x increase in spot LNG/gas prices globally. Franck mentioned that he believes that the clean energy disruption is gaining pace and will continue globally. He further spoke about the investment strategy and markets for Constant Energy, “Renewable energies and smart grid are the future and a global growth market with tremendous investment requirements globally over the next 20 year. The ever higher penetration of intermittent renewable energy creates the need for power storage to mitigate intermittency and offer low-cost stable and constant renewable power. Constant Energy has specialised on an area that uses sources for energy production with an absence of fuel costs/risks and whose cost have been dropping drastically among energy sources: Photovoltaics (PV), floating PV and battery storage. These investments are attractive to us, as efficiency enhancements and cost reductions are making power generation from PV and Storage increasingly more cost-efficient and competitive. They are enabling companies in Thailand to join the renewable resolution by installing solar plants for them at zero upfront cost under long-term contracts.

Strong country regulatory track record, high quality assets, long term global and local partnerships are the key factors when investing profitably in our sector. Our investment decisions are based on extensive expert analysis, existing experience and successful track record in the countries where we invest, and direct asset management. Our initial focus is on emerging Asia and Africa for utility solar PV generation investments as well as developed markets for utility battery storage investments.


If you want to know more about Constant Energy, you can get in touch with Franck Constant directly, his email is [email protected].

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“Demand quality not only in the products you buy but also in the life of the person who made it”:Orsola de Castro

I met Patsy Tapasanan around eighteen months ago, I did not know much about her at that time. I came across her profile while I was doing some research on the work Fashion Revolution does in Thailand. 

For those of you who have not heard of this organisation, it was founded on 24th April 2013 when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. More than 1,100 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. Fashion Revolution works towards transparency and accountability in the fashion industry, particularly in what we now call fast and disposable fashion.This tragedy was preventable. In the aftermath, survivors told stories of how they noticed cracks in the building and knew the building was hazardous just days before the collapse. Multiple workers told their supervisors that they were afraid to enter the building and continue working. The retails shops and banks on the ground floor shut down their operations, but the demand of an insatiable fashion industry forced garment workers to keep working. The ugly truth is that some of us may have bought and wore the clothes they made. People had to dig through the rubble looking for clothing labels in order to figure out which brands were sourcing from Rana Plaza. In some cases, it took weeks for brands to determine why their labels were found in the ruins and what sort of purchasing agreements they had with those suppliers. 

The culpable brands weren’t limited to fast fashion retailers but included mid-priced brands too.This is because the vast majority of today’s fashion brands and retailers do not own their manufacturing facilities. Fashion supply chains are highly globalised, complex and opaque. Business relationships are often very murky and subcontracting is common. This lack of transparency costs lives.

Many people still remain in the dark, unaware that their clothes may be contributing to the climate crisis and human exploitation. I strongly believe that most people don’t want to support or encourage modern day slavery and wanted to write more on the ugly side of the fashion industry to create awareness.The Rana Plaza incident definitely changed my relationship with fashion because fashion should be empowering. When fashion comes at the cost of social and climate injustice, it is deeply disturbing. I wanted to understand the work Fashion Revolution ,Thailand is doing towards creating awareness and that is why I went to meet Patsy who is a part of the core team of Fashion Revolution, Thailand. At that time , I had read briefly about her but did not know the full extent of the work she has been doing towards empowering elderly women in Loei province through her social enterprise, Folkcharm.




Passawee T. Kodaka, aka Patsy is the Founder and Creative Director at Folkcharm, a ‘farm-to-fashion’ brand that uses locally sourced handloom chemical -free homegrown cotton, aimed to empower rural artisans and to increase the appreciation in rural crafts (wo) manship and slow fashion. She is active in the social enterprise scene in Thailand, co-founding a movement of craft social entrepreneurs, VolksKraft Ethical Crafts Hub. 

Before founding Folkcharm, she worked in international and national -level social development organisations for over 6 years. With the Royal Thai Government, ARC-MDG and UNIFEM Scholarship, she holds an MSc in Rural and Regional Development Planning and has received a scholarship and completed the ‘Trainee Programme for Asian Craft Works’ in Textiles ([Weaving and Dyeing)] from Kanazawa College of Art, Japan.




During my meeting with her, I told her that I would love to visit the sustainable cotton farm and the weavers who make the clothes for Folkcharm and I was fortunate to go with her to Loei to learn more about her social enterprise and see the work she has done at the grass roots level. I went there in November, I met with a group of people there. We were supposed to meet Patsy at the Loei airport at noon on 26th November, my flight landed early so I was at the exit gate by 11.50pm, I was 10 mins early so I casually walked towards Patsy and said,”I guess I am the first one to arrive”. She said,”No,Yyou are the last one”and we both laughed. We put our luggage in a minivan and went to visit a weaving community. We had lunch there and they showed us the process of making cotton into yarn, weaving handlooms is a beautiful and artistic process. From there we went to another community in the evening and stayed at the home stay option there.

I spent two days in Loei visiting different weaving communities , having lunch near a beautiful waterfall and going on an early morning trek to view the sunrise over a beautiful mountain.There was never a dull moment because Patsy had ensured that the entire day was filled with activities. It was heartwarming to listen to so many different stories from each person I met there. A lady who believes in his excellency King Rama 9’s vision for Thailand has started her own social enterprise and she believes in the sufficiency economy model proposed by King Rama 9 which essentially focuses on developing the economy by ensuring fair paying jobs and coexisting in harmony with the environment. I met a ladyboy who told us folklores and tales about how the villagers have learnt to coexist with the wild elephants and she uses elephant poopdung for dying the cotton that she weaves. Another lady we met had led the fight against a gold mine which had made the village toxic and cancerous and they won the fight after many long years. Another story was that of a local politician who is trying many projects to ensure that the future generation can find jobs in the village community. The underlying connections between all the stories I heard from people was their passion to develop a sufficiency economy which places the planet and people over profit.






Each of their stories came from a pure and honest space , it is hard for me to pick a favoritefavourite but something about Khun Jayor, the ladyboy really struck me. I was not able to fully understand her, her eyes were a mix of joy and pain. The joy of having achieved so much in a small village and the pain of all the hurdles she had to overcome. I bought a fabric woven by her and requested to take a picture with her and she was happy to pose with me. When you buy a fabric directly from a weaver , it is not just a piece of cloth, you are supporting the artistic process of farm to fashion. 100% sustainable organic cotton costs anywhere between 350 to 700Bthb per metre , that is definitely expensive compared to fast fashion but you pay to ensure that the planet and the people working for the brand did not suffer in the process of making the fabric. Fast fashion is cheap because someone somewhere is paying the price for it so it’s better to buy less and choose well.

My favoritefavourite part of my two day itinerary was picking cotton, I loved the open vehicles we travelled in to go to the cotton farm. The cotton in the farm is grown in a sustainable way and it is  free of pesticides, it is also known as rain fed cotton. Most people are unaware that GMO cotton is extremely unsustainable because it uses pesticides and lot of water. There were also stories on how cotton farmers commitingcommitting suicide in India a few years ago might have a connection with the process of GMO cotton. It was around that time many stories about the unsustainable nature of cotton started coming out , fortunately there are a lot of slow fashion brands which are growing sustainable cotton now. If you are a conciousconscious consumer who wants to build a sustainable wardrobe , I reccomendrecommend that you download the application GOOD ON YOUGood on you. The most important thing to remember is to support brands which give you complete transparency of their supply chain and to read the label properly , this is easier with small local brands because their supply chain is not highly fragmented.

Many people still remain in the dark, unaware that their clothes may be contributing to the climate crisis and human exploitation. I strongly believe that most people don’t want to support or encourage modern day slavery and wanted to write more on the ugly side of the fashion industry to create awareness.The Rana Plaza incident definetlydefinitely changed my relationship with fashion because fashion should be empowering. When fashion comes at the cost of social and climate injustice, it is deeply disturbing. I wanted to understand the work FASHION REVOLUTIONFashion Revolution ,Thailand is doing towards creating awareness and that is why I went to meet Patsy who is a part of the core team of FASHION REVOLUTIONFashion Revolution,Thailand. At that time , I had read briefly about her but did not know the full extent of the work she has been doing towards empowering elderly women in Loei province through her social enterprise, Folkcharm.




Passawee T. Kodaka, aka Patsy is the Founder and Creative Director at Folkcharm, a ‘farm-to-fashion’ brand that uses locally sourced handloom chemical -free homegrown cotton, aimed to empower rural artisans and to increase the appreciation in rural crafts (wo) manship and slow fashion. She is active in the social enterprise scene in Thailand, co-founding a movement of craft social entrepreneurs, VolksKraft Ethical Crafts Hub. 

Before founding Folkcharm, she worked in international and national -level social development organizationsorganisations for over 6 years. With the Royal Thai Government, ARC-MDG and UNIFEM Scholarship, she holds an MSc in Rural and Regional Development Planning and has received a scholarship and completed the ‘Trainee Programme for Asian Craft Works’ in Textiles ([Weaving and Dyeing)] from Kanazawa College of Art, Japan.



Each of their stories came from a pure and honest space , it is hard for me to pick a favoritefavourite but something about Khun Jayor, the ladyboy really struck me. I was not able to fully understand her, her eyes were a mix of joy and pain. The joy of having achieved so much in a small village and the pain of all the hurdles she had to overcome. I bought a fabric woven by her and requested to take a picture with her and she was happy to pose with me. When you buy a fabric directly from a weaver , it is not just a piece of cloth, you are supporting the artistic process of farm to fashion. 100% sustainable organic cotton costs anywhere between 350 to 700Bthb per metre , that is definitely expensive compared to fast fashion but you pay to ensure that the planet and the people working for the brand did not suffer in the process of making the fabric. Fast fashion is cheap because someone somewhere is paying the price for it so it’s better to buy less and choose well.

My favourite part of my two day itinerary was picking cotton, I loved the open vehicles we travelled in to go to the cotton farm. The cotton in the farm is grown in a sustainable way and it is  free of pesticides, it is also known as rain fed cotton. Most people are unaware that GMO cotton is extremely unsustainable because it uses pesticides and lot of water. There were also stories on how cotton farmers committing suicide in India a few years ago might have a connection with the process of GMO cotton. It was around that time many stories about the unsustainable nature of cotton started coming out , fortunately there are a lot of slow fashion brands which are growing sustainable cotton now. If you are a conscious consumer who wants to build a sustainable wardrobe , I recommend that you download the application Good on you. The most important thing to remember is to support brands which give you complete transparency of their supply chain and to read the label properly , this is easier with small local brands because their supply chain is not highly fragmented.

During my meeting with her, I told her that I would love to visit the sustainable cotton farm and the weavers who make the clothes for Folkcharm and I was fortunate to go with her to Loei to learn more about her social enterprise and see the work she has done at the grass roots level. I went there in November, I met with a group of people there. We were supposed to meet Patsy at the Loei airport at noon on 26th November, my flight landed early so I was at the exit gate by 11.50pm, I was 10 mins early so I casually walked towards Patsy and said,”I guess I am the first one to arrive”. She said,”No,Yyou are the last one”and we both laughed. We put our luggage in a minivan and went to visit a weaving community. We had lunch there and they showed us the process of making cotton into yarn, weaving handlooms is a beautiful and artistic process. From there we went to another community in the evening and stayed at the home stay option there.

I spent two days in Loei visiting different weaving communities , having lunch near a beautiful waterfall and going on an early morning trek to view the sunrise over a beautiful mountain.There was never a dull moment because Patsy had ensured that the entire day was filled with activities. It was heartwarming to listen to so many different stories from each person I met there. A lady who believes in his excellency King Rama 9’s vision for Thailand has started her own social enterprise and she believes in the sufficiency economy model proposed by King Rama 9 which essentially focuses on developing the economy by ensuring fair paying jobs and coexisting in harmony with the environment. I met a ladyboy who told us folklores and tales about how the villagers have learnt to coexist with the wild elephants and she uses elephant poopdung for dying the cotton that she weaves. Another lady we met had led the fight against a gold mine which had made the village toxic and cancerous and they won the fight after many long years. Another story was that of a local politician who is trying many projects to ensure that the future generation can find jobs in the village community. The underlying connections between all the stories I heard from people was their passion to develop a sufficiency economy which places the planet and people over profit.

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Yindii is a mobile application to connect consumers with food cafes to tackle climate change. It is an anti food waste application designed to help restaurants, cafes and grocery stores with their excess food which might go to waste. Yindii helps battle an escalating food waste problem and helps restaurants to gain potentially lost revenue. The food on the application is half the price, the consumer gets a good deal and a feeling of satisfaction for helping to reduce the carbon footprint of food wastage.




I met Louis-Alban-Batard-Dupre, Yindii founder and tech entrepreneur in an eco market in Bangkok when the application was launched. The business model which focuses on reducing carbon footprint immediately caught my attention so I asked him what inspired him to launch Yindii and he told me, “33% of all food produced globally is wasted or lost every year. That is close to a billion and a half tons which is never consumed, accounting for 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions around the globe. This is an ecological disaster! The growing problem of food waste is challenging to solve for endless reasons including logistics, the complexities of short lived items and the lack of a set market which is what we are working to help solve. All the food available on Yindii is delicious and untouched, coming from premium places, that just cannot wait to be eaten”.

Yindii was established with a simple mission: to ensure delicious unsold meals are tasted and not wasted. It is Thailand’s first food rescue application connecting consumers with restaurants and cafes which have excess food products at discounted prices. I have discovered some interesting cafes through Yindii and love that I can get surprise boxes at discounted prices.

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I found Monsoon Tea in Emquartier at an ecomarket and I loved the brand, I loved their idea of growing tea in harmony with the forest to preserve biodiversity.

I was immediately intrigued, the tea tasted great and I have been an avid tea drinker for many years now. I wanted to meet the person behind the brand and understand his vision for the brand. Kenneth Rimdahl, the CEO of Monsoon Tea is one of the most humble, intelligent and witty people I have ever met. Everytime I asked him,”what was the driving force behind this idea of reforestation to grow tea in a sustainable way?’. He would laugh and say, ”I am stupid”. I would laugh and say,”Common!, I am really curious to know what motivates you”. He would then say,”I just want to leave behind a better planet and I really think it is possible to do business without damaging the planet”. He is not just in the business of selling ordinary tea, he sells biodiversity and harmony in every package of tea. Spending an entire day with Kenneth Rimdahl in a forest which grows the tea was such a wonderful experience. His is not just a story about making sustainable tea, of
course that is what he does but for me, his vision for his brand is a story of hope. It is a story about a person who has dreams of increasing forests and ensuring that he can empower the tea farmers. The entire business model is based on ensuring that the people who work for them and the natural environment are not exploited. Everytime, I drink their tea, I feel
like I am sipping joy, love and hope.The yogi in me makes me write all these words which might make me sound koo koo to some people but I love talking to trees and plants and I feel energy in what I eat.

The forest I visited was in the middle of Chiang Mai and Pai and I saw how a thriving forest filled with biodiversity does not have to be destroyed in order to make profit.The idea that money can be made while the planet blossoms and thrives sounds so idealistic but it is possible.I hope this idea is taken up by many more entrepreneurs, just standing with Kenneth Rimdahl in the middle of this forest and talking about reforestation gave me so much positive energy and hope that it is possible to mitigate climate change. All of us may not be able to go for climate strikes and fight for climate justice but each one of us
can definitely support the brands which are doing business in a sustainable way. It is important that we ensure that we stop supporting brands that are destroying the planet and start supporting brands which are ensuring that our planet will thrive. The money we spend is a vote for the planet

Sir David Attenborough, an English broadcaster and natural historian and many others have repeatedly told us that we cannot continue in the same path of destruction and deforestation. We must preserve our forests and ensure that biodiversity is restored. The science on saving the planet is very clear, biodiversity must never be compromised for corporate greed. Fortunately, entrepreneurs like Kenneth Rimdahl are ensuring biodiversity is never compromised and giving consumers like me who don’t want to consume products which are damaging the planet an opportunity to buy products which are sustainable. For more details about their tea and visiting their forest, please check their website www.monsoontea.co.th

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Let’s talk about plastic in the menstrual products we have been buying for so many years. You might be thinking that you read that wrong, we knew plastic is in our clothes and food but now we are learning that plastic is in our menstrual products. Gosh!! Why would anybody knowingly sell products that are damaging to our personal hygiene and to the planet. The answer to that will require another article on what corporate greed is doing to humanity and why we need to become more mindful consumers and start ensuring that there is traceability in the products we buy.

Coming back to our monthly red flow visits, did you know that most commercial pads available in the market have synthetic materials including plastics, adhesives, artificial fragrances, toxic chemicals like phthalates, dioxins and petrochemical additives. Some pads also contain chloroform which  is a carcinogen and acetone. Yuk!! When I started understanding how damaging commercial pads are to personal hygiene and the thought of millions of non biodegradable pads lying in landfills on Gods green earth literally made me have a meltdown. I was under the assumption that all pads are biodegradable. Furthermore, the average woman will use 15,000 disposable menstrual pads in her lifetime and it apparently takes more than 100 years for these pads to biodegrade. Luckily, there are various options available for eco conscious consumers today to ditch the synthetic pads and move towards plastic free menstruation.

When exploring safer plastic free alternatives, here are some things to consider.

Are the materials used biodegradable and safe

Is the packaging eco friendly

In my opinion as a writer who focuses on climate change issues, I constantly meet brands working towards creating products which mitigate climate change. I have learnt a few important things that I would like to share. The healthiest option for you and the planet will be pads made from organic and toxin free materials which have minimal packaging and are not single use. The use and throw culture has got to change so the best option is a menstrual cup, reusable pads and reusable underwear. All of these options prevent tons of plastic waste. Reusable pads and underwear are usually made from organic cotton and they are so much softer than the plastic pads. They also come in various sizes depending on your need. Menstrual cups made from silicone or rubber are gaining traction as an eco alternative to conventional tampons and I personally recommend this option because I find it extremely convenient. I made the switch more than a year back and it is one of the best decisions I have made towards a more conscious and mindful lifestyle.

These options might not suit everyone, if you are someone who chooses to use disposable pads, the best option is to find brands which are making non plastic biodegradable pads. Fortunately, there are a few companies making pads from coconut fibre, banana fibre, bamboo fibre etc. which are 100% biodegradable. I have not personally come across any in Thailand but there are a few in India. I worked on a small project with an organisation in India which is educating women on the importance of plastic free menstruation. I learnt about a few different biodegradable pads which are safe for human use from them. I was very impressed to see the work the organisation is doing at the grass root level to educate women and to eradicate plastic from menstrual products.

Have you already started your journey towards plastic free menstruation? What are the issues which are holding you back? I would love to hear from you and answer your questions. For more queries, kindly get in touch with me @[email protected] and I will answer all your questions and hopefully we can all collectively ensure that we can eradicate plastic from menstrual products and move towards a plastic free menstruation.

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I visited Ourland with my eleven year old daughter. I was looking for an authentic experience near Bangkok to connect deeper with nature and learn about different aspects of nature conservation. I mentioned this to a friend and she suggested Ourland, this place gave me such a memorable experience. It is not a candy floss eco friendly resort, this is as real as real gets and it’s run by a person who is genuinely interested in conserving nature.

When I spoke to the owner, he mentioned that the idea was to take commercial land and return it to nature by letting flora and fauna thrive there. He wanted to create a space which focuses on developing and sustaining an eco friendly lifestyle which is technologically advanced. This is located in the last wildlife corridor through which animals can pass between the lower half of Salakhpra wildlife sanctuary which is Thailand’s oldest wildlife sanctuary. It is located on the edge of Kwae yai river and my favourite activity was to float down the river. 

This was the first time I tried that activity, I was nervous but Vijo(the owner) who took care of my daughter and I made me feel extremely comfortable. He assured me that there is nothing to worry about and it will be a memorable experience. There were so many colourful and beautiful birds by the river but I could not take any pictures because I was not able to take my phone with me while I was floating down the river. I had no clue about this activity so I did not take my waterproof gopro with me. I wish I had, I could have captured some beautiful images. 

It’s only three hours drive from Bangkok so I can go back anytime. On our way back to Bangkok, my daughter was asking me,”Mommy, can we go back again soon”. The connection with nature is so addicting that the place entices you to visit again.

We were fortunate to see a baby elephant when we visited, we gave it a bath and we also cooked food for an older elephant which did not have teeth so we had to ensure that the rice was cooked to a soft consistency. My daughter also cut banana leaves to feed the elephant, she loved that activity. The conversation with Vijo on how elephants that are rescued usually live up to 100 years compared to 60 years for elephants who are in the wild really got me thinking on how much it must be costing these elephant sanctuaries to feed these elephants 300kgs a day. I am always amazed to see how friendly and loving elephants in captivity are, I have visited a few of these places and always loved my experience with elephants. There is so much compassion in their eyes and it is completely unethical to use them for trekking. The elephants in this sanctuary are usually rescued from trekking camps which use them as a vehicle for humans to sit and ride.

One of the main activities of Ourland is snake education, my daughter absolutely loved that experience. Honestly, I found it so creepy in the beginning but I was okay towards the end of the day. It’s important to understand that these snakes in Ourland were not taken directly from the wild, they were given to the owner and he specifically told me that we must never take out an animal from the wild and we should not breed the wild animals which are in captivity. As we humans evolve, there is so much to learn and I am happy I found this beautiful place which not only gave me and my daughter a wonderful experience, we also learnt so much.

Ourland is situated in the middle of a forest and they focus on wildlife tracking, organic farming, wood construction, snake education, honey hunting and much more. We got a taste of all these activities. Ourland also works with the local communities to enhance understanding and acceptance towards conservation. This includes:

– Collaborating with local communities to address Human Elephant Conflict (HEC)

– Working with local orphanages to inspire children to take active leadership in nature conservation

– Serving as a meditation centre that allows groups who prefer the safe haven of a jungle over the hustle and bustle of the city

 In a nutshell, at Ourland they are creating a new way of life, where nature is respected and conservation is seen as the crucial link between progress and tranquility . All this is viewed through a scientific lens to better understand how we can continue to coexist with nature with the least possible damage.The details of their packages are on their website, www.ourlandthailand.com

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“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” 

While I was standing on the summit of Phu Chi fa waiting for the sun to rise, I could not help looking at this amazingly beautiful planet and it pained me immensely to think about the rate at which we are destroying it. It felt surreal to stand so close to a mist of floating clouds and watch the beautiful sun turn the earth into shades of orange with her gold droplets.

This beautiful hill station is located in northern Thailand near the border of Laos. I was told that it is still considered an undiscovered place so I was super excited but when I climbed the summit at 5.30 am, there were so many people there. It is a popular destination amongst locals and I saw some foreign visitors too so I would not really call this destination unexplored but that should not be a big concern if you really want to visit. It is easy to get there by car from Chiang Rai, I stayed there overnight to ensure I was on time for the sunrise. Standing and watching the sunrise over the misty mountain was such a surreal experience, it was one of the most glorious displays of nature I have witnessed. My pictures can never do justice to what I witnessed with my own eyes.

I was told that the name Pu Chi Fa translates to, ”The mountain that points to the sky” and it definitely lives up to its name. When you are viewing the sunrise from the top of the summit, it literally feels like you are in a dream. I spent some time there after sunrise too, a lot of people start leaving after the sunrise but I really enjoyed staying there and clicking pictures. You can walk around the summit and discover different paths, I walked down one path and tried clicking some pictures. This is a dream destination for landscape photographers and if you can get there very early, it is possible to set up a tripod right in the front. The change in colours and the way the clouds come out after the sunrise is interesting to watch.

The best way to go there is by car from Chiang Rai, it’s roughly 2.5 hours. If you want to watch the sky turning from dark purple to pinkish orange, it is recommended to reach there as early as possible depending on the time of the year. You can get this information through local people or websites, I went there in December and the weather was a little chilly. I stayed at a local hotel, there are lots of options for tents too if you are interested in camping overnight.

My schedule to visit Phu Chi Fah in mid-December looked like this:

4.45am: wake up

5:15am: Leave our guesthouse in a songthaew for the summit, the guesthouse owner had her own songthaew. It took 10 mins.

5:25am: Begin the 760 metre hike up the Phu Chi Fa Forest Park trail (15 to 20 minutes)

5:40am: Reach the summit, wait for the sunrise and click photos of the summit’s silhouette 

6:55am: Sunrise is complete!

7:00am: Stay and watch the mist clear up around the mountain tops

8:00am: Start walking down the summit (20 minutes)

8:20am: Take a songthaew ride back 

My biggest disappointment was that there is still so much single use plastic being used by all the resorts there. It is important for travellers and travel makers to protect the environment, it pains me to see the lack of education and understanding that nature needs to be loved and cared for by human beings. I carried my own water bottle and strongly recommend to avoid single use plastic when you travel to the mountains.

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“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” 

While I was standing on the summit of Phu Chi fa waiting for the sun to rise, I could not help looking at this amazingly beautiful planet and it pained me immensely to think about the rate at which we are destroying it. It felt surreal to stand so close to a mist of floating clouds and watch the beautiful sun turn the earth into shades of orange with her gold droplets.

This beautiful hill station is located in northern Thailand near the border of Laos. I was told that it is still considered an undiscovered place so I was super excited but when I climbed the summit at 5.30am, there were so many people there. It is a popular destination amongst locals and I saw some foreign visitors too so I would not really call this destination unexplored but that should not be a big concern if you really want to visit. It is easy to get there by car from Chiang Rai, I stayed there overnight to ensure I was on time for the sunrise. Standing and watching the sun rise over the misty mountain was such a surreal experience, it was one of the most glorious displays of nature I have witnessed. My pictures can never do justice to what I witnessed with my own eyes.

I was told that the name Pu Chi Fa translates to, ”The mountain that points to the sky” and it definitely lives up to its name. When you are viewing the sunrise from the top of the summit, it literally feels like you are in a dream. I spent some time there after sunrise too, a lot of people start leaving after the sunrise but I really enjoyed staying there and clicking pictures. You can walk around the summit and discover different paths, I walked down one path and tried clicking some pictures. This is a dream destination for landscape photographers and if you can get there very early, it is possible to set up a tripod right in the front. The change in colours and the way the clouds come out after the sunrise is interesting to watch.

The best way to go there is by car from Chiang Rai, it’s roughly 2.5 hours. If you want to watch the sky turning from dark purple to pinkish orange, it is recommended to reach there as early as possible depending on the time of the year. You can get this information through local people or websites, I went there in December and the weather was a little chilly. I stayed at a local hotel, there are lots of options for tents too if you are interested in camping overnight.

My schedule to visit Phu Chi Fah in mid-December looked like this:

4.45am: wake up

5:15am: Leave our guesthouse in a songthaew for the summit, the guesthouse owner had her own songthaew. It took 10 mins.

5:25am: Begin the 760 metre hike up the Phu Chi Fa Forest Park trail (15 to 20 minutes)

5:40am: Reach the summit, wait for the sunrise and click photos of the summit’s silhouette 

6:55am: Sunrise is complete!

7:00am: Stay and watch the mist clear up around the mountain tops

8:00am: Start walking down the summit (20 minutes)

8:20am: Take a songthaew ride back 

My biggest disappointment was that there is still so much single use plastic being used by all the resorts there. It is important for travellers and travel makers to protect the environment, it pains me to see the lack of education and understanding that nature needs to be loved and cared for by human beings. I carried my own water bottle and strongly recommend to avoid single use plastic when you travel to the mountains.

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Students

I saw a sign which read, “The climate is hotter than Justin Bieber”. My preteen made her weird face and said,“I don’t think Justin Bieber is hot, Cole Sprouse is really hot”. Anyways, this article is not about who is the hottest man alive so let me bring the focus back to what is really hot right now. You guessed it absolutely right, amazon forests are burning and there is a growing fear that the worst is yet to come. Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years were the four hottest on record and winter temperatures in the arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying and we are starting to see the life threatening impact of climate change on health through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.

kidMy 10 year old daughter told me,“There is a climate emergency strike in Bangkok on 20th September, I really want to go. Can you please get permission from school for me to go strike”. At this point, I have to tell you that I have never gone on a strike for anything in my 41 years of existence and I was really surprised at her passion to go on this strike. She is very particular about reducing single use plastic, she would say, “Mommy, you know how many turtles have died from eating plastic, honey bees are affected too, we won’t have honey if we kill all of them”. She initiated a few sustainable practices in the house so her request was not entirely unexpected so I sent in an email in to school and got a positive reply. This strike was supported by the Ministry of Education and hundreds of students took to the road with slogans demanding climate justice.

Save worldThe impacts of climate change are already evident around the world. Thailand, as part of the Mekong River Basin is struggling to deal with these impacts which result in part from ecological pressures introduced by large hydropower dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and urbanisation. Currently, Thailand is home to a population of about 70 million and is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts which are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. For example, in 2011 Thailand experienced its worst ever flood event on record, at a cost of US$46 billion for repair and rehabilitation nationally and US$8 billion in Bangkok alone.

MarchMore recently, the national hydroinformatics and climate data centre (NHC) recorded a significant period of recurrent and prolonged droughts between 2015 and 2016 that led to critically low levels of water in reservoirs nationwide. In 2016, these droughts significantly reduced the length of the growing season as well as agricultural yields. Furthermore, in a economic study focusing on trends in extreme weather conditions along the Chao Phraya river basin, it was projected that in the next two decades, extreme droughts could create conditions for dry season irrigated rice production where total production levels would be reduced by 30.9%. The rise in sea level is another impact resulting from climate change which threatens livelihoods in coastal communities. For example, saltwater intrusion has caused a significant decline in rice yields in the upper Gulf of Thailand, contributing to the vulnerability of mangrove forests and degraded coral reefs. These impacts have affected the ecosystem services provided by these natural resources as well as in the fisheries in this region and the livelihoods that depend upon them. Research has shown an increase in the local mean sea level of 5 mm/year over the last 25 years in this region .

Save worldThe strikers marched from Sena Place Hotel to the Ministry of Thailand demanding for climate justice. The strike was well organised and did not disrupt traffic, the passionate energy coming from the strikers made a few people stop and notice. They gave the letter with their demands to the Ministry of Thailand. The letter was a request to the Thai government to treat global warming as an emergency by slashing subsidies for fossil fuels and switching to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible. The strikers were holding signs such as “There is no planet B, take action now” in front of the Ministry and they pretended to be dead by lying down on the floor and insisted on immediate action to save their lives.

The enthusiasm and energy was extremely passionate and I feel extremely hopeful when I see this global movement started by environmental activist Greta Thunberg (a 16 year old Swedish environmental activist who is credited with raising global awareness of the risks posed by climate change, and with holding politicians to account for their lack of action on the climate crisis) gaining a lot of momentum in 2019.

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