Seed Balls for Guerrilla Gardening

Urban Farm Magazine has an instruction and comical video explaining how to make seed bombs that can be used to seed brown areas in the city. All undercover of course. As shown in the video, after the seed balls are made, you can run around town and slyly infuse different yards and unproductive areas with your seed bombs.

One benefit of the seed bomb is that the seeds are provided with nutrients from the worm compost while the clay holds everything together. This way the seeds have a better chance of survival once they hit the ground.

Great idea! I think I will try this activity in Bangkok since there are so many vacant lots growing nothing but weeds.
Video : Urban Farm Online Guerrilla Gardening with Seed Bombs

Global Buckets Promoting Edible Gardens

outh and entrepreneurship are two great elements for social change because young people really have the drive and creativity to push the limits and help people. These two brothers are a wonderful example of young people who are looking to help people in developing countries by spreading information about gardening systems.

They started by developing an idea similar to the Earthbox but used 5 gallon buckets. They filmed an intro and various how-tos for making their Global Buckets using 2 5-gallon plastic buckets, a plastic cup, PVC pip, drill/hole drill bits, black plastic, soil and vegetable plant (tomatoes, peppers, etc.) The video are narrated by the two brothers and are very easy to follow. The benefits of their system is that it reduces water loss, reduce time needed for weeding and can easily be used in small spaces, even urban rooftops.

Furthermore, these guys are great experimenters. After some feedback from users in Jamaica that told them that 5-gallon buckets in Jamaica are too valuable to put holes in, they decided to try to make similar system out of garbage and recycling various materials. So now, they have suggested other ideas such as growing bags and using dirt, instead of potting soil. They hope to lower the cost and make these systems more applicable to developing countries. I wish these two young social entrepreneurs the best and will try some of their ideas out in my own garden.

UNESCO video on Ethics and Bioethics Workshop

Filmed at a workshop at the Science Center in Bangkok, Thailand, this video is a presentation on “Our Common Future: Our Planet, Our Oasis” for science teachers in Thailand. The displays at the workshop are shown, along with the workshop participants and some scenes from around Bangkok. For the interviews of the Thai science teachers, English subtitles are provided, and overall it seems that they acquired new ideas and learnings that they will share with their students in the classroom.


Societies and communities will progress in a more just, equitable and sustainable direction if the cultural, ethical, and spiritual values of those societies are central determinants in shaping science and technology. Bioethics and environmental ethics have been core areas of action in the Social and Human Science Sector of UNESCO for the past decade. The video shows people participating and learning, through games, about how to attain the goals of bioethics and values education

Video on Social Enterprise in Thailand

This video captures a dialogue of several social entrepreneurs in Thailand. The images are of Bangkok and some of the problems we face in Thailand such as pollution, poverty, etc. It is a bit inspirational to those of us in Thailand that want to make a difference in a sustainable way. The video is in Thai without any subtitles.

Global Social Venture Competition – Southeast Asia Round

Monument of Pridi Phanomyong at Thammasat Univ...
Image via Wikipedia

Every year Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand hosts the Global Social Venture Competition for the Southeast Asian region (GSVC-SEA).  This business plan competition is focused on promoting new social ventures and social entrepreneurs by providing a forum for these venures to get exposure and funding.

The Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) was launched in 1999 by the Hass School of Business of the University of California at Berkeley, USA. It was the oldest and largest competition of its kind, to promote entrepreneurial start-up companies which offer measurable social or environmental benefits in addition to profits. These social impacts can be in the areas of health, education, environment, etc. By 2010, GSVC has grown to include over 500 teams worldwide, partnering with many of the world’s top business schools, including the Columbia Business School, the London Business School, and the Indian School of Business.

To enter the GSVC-SEA competition, a team which includes just one graduate business student or a person who graduated from within 2 years from any school submits a five-page executive summary of a proposed venture, which is scalable and offers quantifiable social and/or environmental benefits incorporated into


its mission and practices. Executive summaries must be submitted before 11 pm (Bangkok time), 15 January 2011 to qualify. Please see more detailed rules, regulations and past winners on the website

After the submission process, all entries will undergo the first judging round. Groups of professionals, academics and students gather in Bangkok to review and debate in small groups about the various social ventures submitting. Finally, 12 teams are selected to be the regional finalists who will then come to present their business plans in a two day event in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2011. Each team will be allowed 15 minutes to pitch their plan. Following their presentation, a panel of judges will engage the team in a series of questions regarding the technical, business and social impact aspects of their proposed venture. The top two winners of the business plan competition will be sent to the Global Social Venture Competiton Global Round (GSVC Global) to compete at the University of California, Berkely, USA. In addition, the social venture with the best social impact assessment will be showcased in the Global round.

Here’s a former GSVC-SEA winner who spoke at the 2010 GSVC-SEA Symposium: Lex Reyes talks about RuralLight at GSVC 2010 from Marielle Nadal on Vimeo.

Thailand Volunteer Opportunities

The Volunteer Work Thailand website offers a list of non-profit organization working in Thailand that are looking for international volunteers. It is a fairly comprehensive list and includes some basic information about each organization, such as what they do, location, length of stay, what’s provided.

Another place to search for job, internships and volunteer opportunities in the non-profit sector is The section for Thailand offers some good leads, but many are related to volunteer teaching in Thailand. It is worth checking out though and hopefully more organizations in Thailand will use this resource so there will be a greater variety of opportunities listed.

Ecotourism – Is it harmful or helpful?

In the last decade, ecotourism has exploded and everyone wants to cash in on this trend from eco-resorts to eco-adventures. Ecotourism attempts to maintain the natural aspects of the tourist destination while compromising with the need for income from tourists and the resources that these tourists require. The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local area.”

Tourism brings lots of money to an area which might not have much income otherwise and ecotourism has become the solution to preserving the natural assets of these areas. In most cases, tourism does benefit the local economy and better the locals’ livelihoods with income from tourism. Traditionally, the locals’ and tourists express little concern over the changes in the local area, natural beauty, waste disposal issues and so on which arise as the number of tourists increases. These problems are especially difficult in newly opened areas or developing countries, such as Thailand.

The trend in the past decade to help alleviate the problems caused by tourism, especially in natural areas, is ecotourism. However, the term ecotourism itself is often misused or overused. There are no set rules or accepted way to verify whether something classifies as ecotourism or not. This means that many tour operators can make claims about their tours being eco-tours without any clear criteria. The operators might not know any better or they are simply following what everyone else is doing without understanding the purpose of ecotourism.

There are many problems with ecotourism that eco-destinations must deal with. These problems include poor waste management, shortage of knowledgeable guides, and excessive development. These destinations often undergo a drastic change when “big operators” come into an area and develop larger resorts and complexes. I recently visited Thong Nai Pan on Koh Phangan and saw a drastic difference between two beaches in the bay. One beach was changing quickly as investors from Bangkok were pumping money into renovating resorts from the original wooden bungalows to concrete rows of rooms. As the resorts provide nicer amenities, they can charge more for the rooms and attract customers with more money to spend. But, this type of resort and the tourist they attract tend to have greater impact on the environment because there are bigger buildings and facilities, such as pools, and thus produce more waste.

An unfortunate byproduct of tourism is that the very visitors who are coming to see the beauty of the landscape inadvertently cause damage to the place that they have travelled so far to see. A good example are snorkelers which crowd on boats to view coral reefs and damage the corals by stepping on them. Plastic bags and drink containers floating in the water is another byproduct of these visitors. Day after day, the visitors come and little by little the coral will become less beautiful and the ocean water will become more polluted. The result is that the natural assets which brought the visitors to the area in the first place will be destroyed.

The million dollar question is “How can we ensure destinations are sustainable?” It is a matter of figuring out ways to control the negative impacts of tourism (e.g., loss of habitat, loss of water quality due to poor sewage/pollution control, etc) so that they don’t lessen the areas’ value as a quality tourism destination. This responsibility cannot fall upon the local authorities alone as the nature which is lost belongs to us all. We all are responsible for the affects of our travel and need to consider ways to ensure our destinations prosper with the fewest negative effects on the environment.

Fried Ice Cream at Talad Bangnampung

On a recent visit to Thonburi, we visited the market at Wat Bangnampung, or talad bangnampung. This market is built on concrete walkways along a canal and over a protected wetland area. The temple uses the market to stir tourists and attention to the conservation efforts to protect the wetlands, which is home to the popular fireflies. The area also offers homestays for those who want to see how the locals live and learn about the local agriculture.

The market itself offers tons of delicious food and deserts, many of which are hard to find in your average market. Here you’ll find noodles alongside the canal and you must sit barely a foot off the ground on a foot stool. In the canal, you can see families renting wooden boats and paddling them back and forth in the water for just 20 baht per hour.

Noodle shop along the canal.
One of the treats available at the market was fried ice cream. For 10 baht, you can have the ice cream flavor of your choice dipped in batter and fried. Finally, the fried ice cream is served in a styrofoam dish with a few toppings like sprinkles, nuts or jellies.

Toppings for the fried ice cream in jars.

Fried ice cream with sprinkles on top.


In Thailand, using gasohol will….

these statistics were found on the Ford website:

  • replace octane imported from other countries.
  • provide alternative fuels produced from vegetables in our country.
  • saves limited natural gas supplies by using ethanol mixed with gasoline to reduce gas usage by 10%.
  • provide income to Thai farmers with a chance for a better quality of life by producing ethanol from locally grown vegetation.
  • reduces air pollution and green house gas emissions.
  • helps to spread investment and provides jobs in rural areas.


Underground Recycling

Bangkok has been hit by a new trend: Greening. If you go around town you will see supermarkets advertising their new environmentally friendly canvas bags. Bangkokians seem to be catching on to the fad and buying the little bags. Ironically, in this same town, you can walk by the trash can labelled recycling and see that there is all kinds of trash in it without any kind of sorting at all.

While most Thais, aren’t as aware of recycling as most Westerners, it doesn’t mean that they don’t recycle. In fact, Thais have been recycling long before the slogans “Go Green!”  and “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” started being promoted. Most well-to-do Thais left it to their servants and workers to do their recycling for them. They did their part simply by buying the product in the first place and leaving if for the less fortunate to do all the dirty work.  Only lately has recycling become a middle class thing to be applauded.

Previously, only the poorer segment of the population cared about those plastic bottles and aluminum cans strewn along the street or left unsorted in trash cans. To them, these materials represented money once they had been collected and sold to recycling centers. It didn’t matter if you didn’t recycle personally because someone else would do the recycling for you. Realistically though, it just makes the job of recycling harder, dirtier and less effective for those that do.

The “saleng people” do this for a living and they ride around in their tricycle-wagon, or saleng, through the streets of Bangkok. They start out early in the morning to get the good finds, wear ragged and dirty clothes, and spend most of the day searching through Bangkok’s garbage. Every garbage bin or pile of trash becomes a place to find the goods that they sell to earn the money they need to live off of. They are sometimes called “the unsung heroes without whom Bangkok would drown in a sea of trash.” (Bangkok Post May 26, 1998)