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20 Calls Per Day... 'Plastic War' Of Thai 12-Year-Old Girl

Honestly, it's hard and inconvenient to practice plastic-free. But is it uncomfortable better than harming the earth? If I can, you can too!
Thailand's 12-year-old environmental activist, Raylyn Satili. (JoongAng Ilbo)

Thailand's twelve-year-old girl, Raylyn Lily Satinatana, is one of the activists at the forefront of Thailand's plastic warfare. International organizations such as communities, government agencies, and the United Nations claim to "don't use disposable plastics."


Lily is speaking at the UNEP Marine Plastics Conference held at the UN Center in Bangkok, Thailand, last month. (UNEP)
"I'm unhappy about animals dying from plastic"

An eight-month-old dugong Mariam died in Thailand on May 23. The dugong is an endangered marine mammal, believed to be caused by a plastic bag in its stomach. The Thai government has banned the use of disposable plastics in all national parks since January 1, 2020. (Yonhap News)

Lily became interested in environmental issues when she was eight years old. "Whenever I went to the beach with my family, I realized that there was too much garbage."

 

"One day I picked up all trash that I can see around, but when I went the next day, the same amount of trash was piled up again. I thought my action alone was not enough."


"Sea creatures do not use plastic, but they die because of plastic. It's too unfair."

A trader's cart moving plasticized groceries at a market in Bangkok last summer. To reduce the use of plastic bags in retail stores, Thailand decided to eliminate free plastic bags from large supermarket chains since January 2020. The Thai government plans to discuss the solution of disposable bags and plastic bags for street foods and markets, starting with the exit of plastic bags by large supermarkets. (Yonhap News)

Lilly, who is in 8th grade international school, has been calling from a corporate call center extension for four years. "I want this company to use less plastic. I'm trying to explain why, so please take five minutes." Lily's mother said, "She made 20-30 calls a day. I was dumbfounding to see her do this every day."

  

Lily visited Thailand's largest distribution chain, Top Supermarket, BIC, Tesco, and Seven Eleven, the country's largest convenience store. It is also trying to contact multinational companies such as Unilever and Coca-Cola.


Koh Tao Island's waterfront near Pattaya Beach, a major tourist destination in Thailand. Thailand's beaches, attracted by tourists from around the world, are plagued by plastic waste discarded by residents and tourists. (JoongAng Ilbo)

Of course, the process wasn't smooth and quick. Lily told us that she visited Seven Eleven's operators two years ago. When Lily made the request, the company replied, "We are already taking the necessary steps." He also said, "Children don't have to do this. I can't do it alone."

 

Lily thinks differently. "The company is taking measures to curb recycled plastics, but that's not enough," she said.


"Disposable plastic, recycling is not the answer"


"I feel like I'm trapped in plastic," Lily said as she wrapped vinyl around her body. (JoongAng Ilbo)

Constant activity has made Lily a well-known activist in Thailand. Lily said, "I thought I couldn't make a change by myself, but now I can make a change! I think it can make a big difference if you make others realize, act, and unite with more people."

 

According to Lilly, many companies only respond to the demand for discontinuance of disposable plastic by saying: "we recycle a lot." But Lily said, "That's a rush to just pump water out of a flooded house." Given that only 9% of all plastic waste is recycled, recycling is not the answer. "To solve the problem, you have to swim to a broken faucet and lock it down."

 

"No matter how much money you make or what job you have, the plastic problem affects everyone," Lily said. "I hope every day could be 'No Disposable Plastic Day.'"


"Action for the future is more important than one hour of math study"

Thailand's 12-year-old environmental activist Lilly is presenting at TEDxYouth @ Bangkok in Bangkok, Thailand. (Facebook 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags Thailand')

Lily shared her worries about the future. "I think the dark future is already here. I'm worried that everything will fall and humanity will disappear." At the same time, she hoped to live a life without worrying about a 'safe earth' without a climate change or plastic issues.

 

Lily often misses classes because of a variety of outside-of-school activities she does, but the school acknowledges her activity as attendance. Lily's mother said, "I believe it's more important for her to act and practice for her future than to take an hour of math class right now."

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