Bagan Plastic Campaign

Khiri Reach is cleaning up in Myanmar with the Bagan Plastic Campaign
Complaining about an issue doesn’t make it go away. Getting involved and being part of the solution is the only way to really lead change. When it comes to the rubbish and plastic problems plaguing most countries around the globe, the 1st step is collecting the trash itself. Mr U Tint Swe the owner of Nanda restaurant set up the local organisation ‘Bagan Plastic Campaign’. They managed to acquire a garbage truck through a Japanese NGO and every weekend, the truck goes around with volunteers from hotels, cafes, ballooning companies etc. to collect rubbish from different sites around Bagan.

Besides the cleaning and collection, they are also implementing community awareness campaigns and getting locals to join in the activities, whilst teaching them why plastic must be gathered and disposed of if it cannot be recycled in the correct manner. 1 of the methods being taught is Eco-Bricks; small or soft pieces of plastic are stuffed into plastic bottles until they are compacted and then sealed. These eco-bricks can be used to form or repair structures and walls, providing a free and strong building material.

Khiri Travel Myanmar decided that it was not enough for Bagan to only be cleaned on weekends and that there was a need for the clean ups to run on weekdays too. This was also an opportunity to create jobs for some of the poorest people in Bagan.

Through US$1 donations from each client that participates in the ‘This is Bagan Excursion’ funds were raised to start a new Khiri Reach initiative. 4 jobs were created and 4 locals were recruited as full time garbage collectors, who have been working since May 2017. They now get paid US$100 each per month, so a total of US$400 which is being covered through Khiri Reach under the supervision of Reach Ambassador Ms Su Mon Latt.
Now every Saturday, foreign and local volunteers from around the city join the clean ups while the 4 hired staff clean on weekdays.

Some of the biggest clean ups “Bagan Plastic Campaign Group” have implemented have been in the following areas;
• Nan-taw-yar along the way to Bu-paya, Museum and Mingala-zedi at Old Bagan.
• Shwe-Zi-Gon pagoda along the way to Htilominlo pagoda at Nyaung Oo.
• The front of Thiri-min-galar hall along the way to Myingyan Road.
• Thiripyitsaya junction to Bu-Phaya (1-group) and from junction to Myin-ka-bar village (2-group).
• From Museum to Bu-Phaya , Tharabar-Gate , Ananda Temple and That-byin-nyu Temple.
• Bagan Hotel (Old Bagan) along the way to New Bagan.
• Non-Let-Ta-Phat sunset hill and surrounding locations

Bagan Plastic Campaign group welcomed volunteers from NYU AGD Bank who got involved and helped educate the public on how to reduce consumption and discard of plastic in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.
Recently, Areindamar Travel Group and the Municipality authority joined too and actively cleaned the grass banks and all public areas of the piles of plastic around the East and South sides of Pha-Ya-Ni pagoda in Nyaung Oo.
Student Groups from KHIRI Travel volunteered and focused on cleaning rubbish and plastic near That-byin-nyu and Ananda temples.

At the moment, funding and donations for the Bagan Plastic Campaign come in from different stakeholders, some local celebrities and donors from all over the country, but it is not enough to ensure the long term growth and expansion of the project. As the program is set up and running well, it would be great if travel agents and other businesses in the industry would join as well and start supporting the campaign. This would guarantee the current 4 staffs job security and also provide more employment opportunities for others too.

With not many recycling facilities or options in Myanmar, there is hope to create local community workshops where all plastic can be broken down and even reused. This would not only prevent landfills and burning, but help solve the plastic pollution problem for good.

If you would like support the Bagan Plastic Campaign or join an actual clean up, then please contact Su Mon.