Jun 26, 2019
In 1950, the world’s population of
2.5 billion produced just over 1.5 million tons of plastic. Today,
with a global population of more than 7 billion people, we product
over 320 million tons of plastic… and it’s estimated that this
number is set to DOUBLE by the year 2034. And every single day,
approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution finds its way
into our oceans. 8. million. pieces. Every. Single.
My guest today is doing her part to
impact this issue in a big way...
1:57 – The Sarah 101
- Growing up Adelaide, Australia,
Sarah knew from a very young age that she wanted to work in tourism
and travel the world. While in graduate school, she discovered a
specific passion for sustainability and ecotourism.
- Sarah took a slight career detour
for a few years as a digital marketer for the Tourism Industry. In
2012, she realized was no longer pursuing her dreams of working on
sustainability and ecotourism.
- After searching out those dreams
in Australia, she started to broaden her search to Southeast Asia
where tourism was an emerging market with opportunities to
- Sarah’s search took her through
Thailand, Cambodia, and even Laos. While in Cambodia, she met the
founder of ConCERT (Connecting Communities, Environment &
Responsible Tourism). The experience made such an impact on Sarah
that she decided to move from Australia to Cambodia in late 2014 to
learn more from ConCERT.
5:00 - Plastic Free
- Just before she left Australia,
Sarah experienced her first “Plastic Free July” challenge. The
experience shaped her ideals around minimizing single-use plastic
in daily life.
- Sarah introduced the challenge to
the Siem Reap community in 2015 as a side-project in addition to
her full-time job.
- A local training restaurant called
Haven asked Sarah to speak to their staff about why
plastic pollution is something we should all be worried
- 18 months ago, Sarah left her job
to devote all of her work to Plastic Free Cambodia. She
now runs local workshops and online programs to help Cambodian
businesses remove plastic from their operations.
9:29 – Baby Steps
- Sarah learned from the experiences
of reducing her own plastic use to teach others how to eliminate
plastic from their own daily routines. The first phrases she
learned in the Cambodian language of Khmer was “I don’t want a
plastic bag”, and “I don’t want a plastic straw.”
- The reactions she received from
communicating these ideas to the community helped her teach locals
the same techniques.
- Most of the time, all we need to
do to be understood is speak about where we’re coming from and
describe what we want.
10:45 – Getting Rid of
- The passion Cambodian people have
for learning helped Sarah spark a community desire to start to
implementing changes in the local markets.
- Cambodians are resourceful: Sarah
didn’t have to do the work for them, she simply gave them the
education to get started.
- The sheer nature of the tourism
industry has caused its operations to revolve around reliance on
- A huge part of the problem with
recycling in developing nations is that the infrastructure isn’t
available to handle recyclables locally, so materials are often
shipped off to other countries in Southeast Asia.
20:00 - Incremental
- Local markets are the best place
to start implementing small changes toward avoiding small
- There is a much greater awareness
these days with Cambodians about the dangers of plastic use, and
the conversation has shifted to a place where there is opportunity
to work on daily behavior and changing old
- This year, Sarah wants to spend
more time launching programs that can be accessible in areas like
Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and other local regions.
- We can make change by focusing on
our own unique path and the topics we’re most passionate
25:20 Plastic Free
- Sarah shares her own personal
shopping techniques to cut back on single-use plastics.
- The most difficult thing lately
for Sarah in the plastic free challenges has been dealing with the
way milk is packaged around the world.
- Sarah has been trying her hand at
making her own milks including Soy and Oat milk.
- Since individual sugar packets are
often lined with plastic to keep out humidity, an easy workaround
is carrying your own small jar of sugar with you in your
29:55 - Getting To Know Our
Find out what Sarah is most grateful
for, the fictional place she would visit if given the chance,
healthy social media habits, and the magical place she wants
everyone to visit at least once.
10:35 A Memorable
"Have a conversation. Use your words
to describe what you want, and when people understand where you’re
coming from, then they’re going to be more than happy to oblige
most of the time.” - Sarah Rhodes
Meet Your Guest:
Sarah Rhodes has worked in the
hospitality and tourism industry throughout her career and has a
Masters in Tourism Management where she developed a keen interest
in sustainable tourism. Following 4 years working for the South
Australian Tourism in online marketing management and project
management roles, she undertook training via the Climate Leadership
Corps, lead by Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States.
After completing this training Sarah moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia
where she worked primarily with the NGO sector and responsible
tourism practices, during which time Plastic Free Cambodia was
formed. Specializing in consulting to businesses and delivering
educational workshops on the topic of plastic reduction and other
environmental issues. Sarah now also consults to other countries
around Southeast Asia thanks to the knowledge she has derived from
her experiences and growing knowledge of climate change and plastic
pollution issues in the region.
- Plastic Free Cambodia: https://plasticfreecambodia.com/