The life-changing takeaway from my seven weeks in Myanmar that we can all do at home…

Those of you that have followed me for a while will know that I am a woman on a mission. Here at Grow Inspired, I aim to inspire others and show them how easy it is to grow their own nutrient-rich food.

I want to connect with people and businesses ready to make a difference to the world by eliminating the useless rubbish they send to landfill and instead, putting goodness back into the soil to complete nature’s healthy cycle.

The circular economy of food waste (CEOFW) is simple. Grow the food, eat the food, compost the waste with microbes and return to the soil full of microbial life, which will in turn create nutrient-rich food. Surely this is a no brainer!

With these missions in mind, I recently spent seven weeks in Thailand and Myanmar on a life-changing trip and I want to share with you what I learned.

Invited back by Jenny Harlen of Bokashi Myanmar, I went to continue the volunteer work I had started in September 2018, teaching how to deliver Bokashi composting on a large-scale.

Discover more about my first trip here

During my time in Myanmar, I was met with the kind of confronting images you only see online. I saw back streets where plastic waste is knee-high and you physically have to wade through it to get by. Waterways that are so littered with plastic, they can only be described as plastic rivers. Plastic blocking drains, plastic choking wildlife. I saw these scenes throughout this beautiful country and they gave me a life-changing shock.

My biggest horror of all was going to a landfill in Ngapali, in the Rakhine state, with a modest population of 137,000. We had a private tour of the landfill, and my jaw dropped as I saw plastic rubbish stretching out as far as the eye could see and piled higher than me sitting at 5ft 4inches. The landfills aren’t pits, but merely vacant land that rubbish is dumped on. Imagine what the landfills look like in the big cities.

This is what happens when you introduce plastic to a country without any systems to process it, nor education on what to do with it.


It forced me to reflect on how much plastic I have and use in my life, and the whole life cycle of that plastic. It is everywhere – it’s impossible to keep it out of our lives, and it’s convenient and useful.

I am not an eco-warrior and I am not a preacher. I am a mindful citizen like you, who cares about the planet and wants to support its future. So it got me to thinking – what can you or I do to make a difference?

The problem feels so big, and we are so small. But we can all play our part.

I am most grateful that in Ngapali, we were hosted by Oliver Essa at the Laguna Eco Lodge, where I met an inspiring man on a mission all over the world, who participates in Chefs Without Borders.

During our time in this region, we were able to make a difference through our work by educating chefs, restaurant owners, municipals and hotels on how to separate their food waste from their plastic, and why it is important not to throw plastic on the streets or into the sea.

The Laguna Lodge make an impact by clearing beaches of plastic every day and now recycling is starting to become part of their focus. Now with large-scale bokashi, they will be able to grow their own food onsite from their food waste, as well as leading the way forward with all the surrounding hotels and municipalities. Such an inspiring man.

Some of our supermarkets here in NZ are now making a difference by inviting you to bring your own containers and by not selling vegetables that are wrapped in plastic.

We can make a difference as individuals by changing our mindset. Our everyday lives have been bombarded with plastic over the past 40 odd years, and now the world is changing so we need to change with it. Remember every little bit helps.

So here are some tips on how you can reduce your plastic today:

  • Refuse drinks with plastic straws
  • Use paper mushroom bags in supermarkets for your vegetables or take a string bag with you
  • Monitor your plastic use each week and set yourself a goal next week to have just a bit less – just be mindful
  • Don’t support big chains that are full of plastic – the likes of Starbucks for example
  • Invest in a ‘Keep Cup’ for your coffee and tea
  • When there are recycle bins, compost bins and landfill bins, take the time to look at these and sort your rubbish properly.

If you’ve made it to the end of this week’s blog, you care as much as I do. So thank you. Together, we can do our bit for our little corner.

Working with companies to audit and improve their waste systems, recycling and composting is an area of my business that I’m growing, so if you are interested in learning more about the systems you can implement at your company, please get in touch.

Happy gardening!

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