Shop Till You Drop Can Be Sustainable
Thailand has a reputation of being a shop till you drop paradise. We at Khiri Travel Thailand feel that it’s getting important to become more aware of how we shop. Besides the obvious question, “Do I really need it”, there is another important criterion: “Does my purchase have a positive effect on the local people?”
Luckily nowadays with a little good will and effort your travelers can shop more responsibly and actually contribute something to the local people who produced the goods. After all, buying fair trade products made locally will help protect jobs, support local industry and build sustainable communities, no matter how basic the item might be.
Bargaining: When bargaining, which can be enjoyable and a good way of interacting with local people, do try to keep things in perspective. It might be fun for your travelers, but the seller’s livelihood depends on getting a fair price as well. Not bargaining at all is not good either, since your clients might risk damaging the structure of the Thai way of life and economy! Offer a third of the asking price and meeting somewhere in the middle is quite reasonable.
Plastic bags: When shopping, carry your own cloth bag with you. If you buy something, politely refuse any plastic bags offered and put your purchased goods into your own bag.
Souvenirs: Do not take any souvenirs from nature such as coral, shells, flowers, or insects. Sometimes coral or other protected and endangered natural products are sold at markets. Please do not support this kind of activity no matter how beautiful or exotic the product may be.
Here are a few recommendations on how to shop for fair trade products or at authentic local places:
OTOP products: For responsible shopping, finding the OTOP logo is a great choice. The abbreviation stands for One Tambon One Product, which is a nationwide project to promote hand-made goods and folk handicrafts from each district or tambon (each Thai Province is divided into many tambons). OTOP was created to widen markets and generate sustainable incomes for villagers in each community to improve their standard of living. http://www.otoptoday.com/en/otop/
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The following are some suggested venues for responsible shopping for Thai souvenirs in Chiang Mai and Bangkok:
Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade, 208 Bamrungrat Road, Chiang Mai,
Akha Ama Coffee, 9/1 Soi 3 Hussadhisewee Road, Mata Apartment, Chiang Mai, http://www.akhaama.com
Lofty Bamboo, G-10 1st Floor Buddy Hotel, 265 Khaosan Road, Bangkok
Heritage Craft & Café, 35 Bamrung Muang Rd., Bangkok
Thai Craft Fair, Jasmine City Building “L Floor”, Soi Sukhumvit 23, Bangkok
The Chonabod, 131 Samsen Road, Bangkok
For more information about how to incorporate responsible shopping for OTOP or fair trade products in your tour of Thailand, please leave your contact information in the form below.