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The weekly grocery shopping just became more sustainable, courtesy of AIT Campus Sustainability Club

The weekly trip to the market has now become more sustainable, courtesy of an initiative of the Asian Institute of Technology Campus Sustainability Club (AITCSC). Moving beyond car-pooling that students and residents of AIT often practice when they travel from the Institute campus, the Club went a step ahead. They engaged a Songthaew, an indigenous mode of transportation, for the weekly grocery visit to the nearby Talad Thai market, which is one of the biggest markets of fresh farm produce in the region.

The weekly grocery shopping just became more sustainable, courtesy of AIT Campus Sustainability Club

AITCSC members on their way to Talad Thai Market in a Songthaew.

“Many of us hire a taxi to visit the nearby market, and the use of shared Saonthaew is a way of reducing our carbon footprint,” says Pragya Niraula, a member of the Executive Committee of the AITCSC. Previously, the Club has been promoting the use of cloth bags as well as encouraging segregation of waste, and this time they adopted a scheme which goes beyond the confines of the Institute campus.

“This initiative has two targets — sharing of transport and replacing plastic bags with cloth bags,” says Pallavi Das, another Executive Committee member. The proposal was floated among AIT residents, which includes students, faculty and staff members and their families. “The proposal met with a positive response with over 60 participants expressing their interest,” says May Thida Maung who also serves in the AITCSC Executive Committee along with two others — Nutthapong Sivapraphagorn and Pokchat Wetchapinant.

A trial run was conducted on 30 January 2016, when 11 participants boarded the shared Songthaew for the Talad Thai trip. Club volunteers joined them and campaigned for the replacement of plastic bags with cloth bags. With the experience being overwhelmingly positive, the Club organized two more trips the next weekend, with another 16 participants opting for the shared transportation. With three successful trips, beginning 13 February, the Club has announced the regular commencement of the Songthaew service every Saturday evening. Club activities have to be sustainable and hence students are encouraged to recover their costs while making a minor profit that can be channeled into the project, says the Club members.

The return trip fare is 50 Baht, which is a quarter of the regular taxi cost of 200 Baht. Similarly, the cloth bag is sold at 50 Baht which is much cheaper than the ones in the market, but at a modest profit compared to the cost price of 44 Baht.

What is unique is that the Club has also prepared an estimation of carbon emissions. A return trip of Talad Thai market covers 14 kilometers, and considering a mileage of 17 kilometers per litre, the Club estimated that the reduction in the carbon emission is 3.835 kg per trip for a cohort of 11 students  — a small amount, but a large step towards a sustainable lifestyle.

More details about the AIT Sustainability Club are availalbe at this link: http://www.aitcsc.ait.ac.th/

A photo gallery from the Talad Thai trip is available at these links
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