Sustainable Souvenirs: Eco-Friendly Shopping in Phuket

Sustainable tourism is more popular than ever, signalling a major shift in how we travel. At Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve, we are proud to be a part of the movement, running one of the most ethical and sustainable elephant sanctuaries in Thailand. You can meet our elephants and discover our eco-friendly activities on one of our Phuket Elephant Tours and Activities.

While you’re in Phuket, you’re bound to come across a range of markets and shops. Thailand is a souvenir haven, with plenty of affordable gifts, clothes, and crafts on offer. Although the cheap prices may be tempting, a lot of these products are mass-produced and have a detrimental impact on the environment. 

We’ve put together a guide to sustainable souvenirs and eco-friendly shopping in Phuket to help you make positive shopping choices during your travels. If you have any questions about our elephant tours or sustainable practices, feel free to contact us.  

How to shop sustainably in Phuket

It’s all too easy to make an unsustainable purchase in Phuket. Most of the souvenirs you’ll find have likely been made in factories with poor working conditions and are made out of damaging plastics. We believe it’s important to instead support eco-friendly practices by purchasing souvenirs that are better for the environment and for people. Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying a souvenir in Phuket to see if it’s sustainable:

  • Is the item made from recyclable, upcycled, or sustainably sourced materials?
  • Was the item mass-produced in a factory or was it handmade by an artisan?
  • Is the item reusable or have a lot of value as a gift?

Some of us might be tempted to shop for shopping’s sake, but we think it’s important to be mindful of what we buy and why. All of us want to go home with some special little memento of our travels or offer a gift to our loved ones, but this can mean so much more when that souvenir has been made with a lot of care and meaning! 

We are passionate about making tourism in Phuket as eco-friendly as possible. You can learn more about the importance of sustainability in Thailand by reading our blog on the Dark Side of Tourism in Phuket

Where to find eco-friendly souvenirs in Phuket 

You won’t have to go far to find a souvenir in Phuket, but to aid you on your search for eco-friendly items, we’ve broken down some of the best places to go to in the city:

Phuket Markets

Some of the most popular souvenirs in Phuket include Thai textiles like silk, wood carvings, and jewelry. You can find all of this and more at the countless markets in the city, but whether or not the products are sustainable might not be immediately clear. The best way of finding out is by speaking to vendors to learn more about where their products were made, by who, and using what materials. 

There are some markets in Phuket where you’re more likely to find eco-friendly souvenirs. This includes the Sunday Walking Street Market, which hosts a wide variety of creative stalls selling everything from rattan bags to ornaments made by local crafters. 

Artisanal Stores in Phuket

Outside of the bustling markets, you’ll find plenty of artisanal stores in Phuket that will sell high-quality handicrafts. For locally sourced, handwoven Thai silk products, head to Ban Boran Textiles, where you’ll find some of the most beautiful silk textiles in the city. 

If you’re looking for some of Phuket’s famed ceramic pieces, the artisanal store Ceramics in Phuket makes everything from delicate bowls to everyday mugs. These ceramics are made on-site by Thai artisans using local clay!

Should you be looking for a wider variety of souvenirs, you can’t go wrong at Lagoon Traditional Thai Crafts on Lagoon Road. Browse intricate woodcarvings, golden Buddha statues, and porcelain pieces to find your ideal souvenir.

Upcycling Initiatives in Phuket

For the most eco-friendly souvenirs possible, you can find upcycled and recycled gifts in Phuket. One of the best places to source these is at Steps Zero Waste at Blue Tree Water Park. This store promotes a zero-waste lifestyle, allowing customers to refill products such as groceries and cleaning products if they bring their own containers. You can also buy organic soaps, bamboo cutlery, and upcycled vinyl bags. 

At the non-profit organization Seeds of Change, discover adorable stuffed elephant and dog toys, coin purses, beach bags, sleep masks, and more, all made from repurposed fabric. Seeds of Change trains underprivileged women to gain employable skills, such as sewing. These craftswomen create all of the products on offer, while helping divert textiles from landfills.

You can purchase the beautiful recycled toy elephants made by Seeds of Change at Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve when you join us for one of our ethical elephant adventure programs. We also have many other beautiful products, including Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve clothing, water bottles, notebooks, keychains, hats and more. 

In fact, at Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve we will very soon be opening a brand new concept, the “Ethical Travel & Gift Shop”, to support our rescued elephants. Stay tuned for updates coming soon!

Enjoy ethical tourism at Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve

Being a sustainable tourist goes beyond just what you buy, it’s also about what you do. At Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve, we don’t just offer the opportunity to get up close with elephants in an ethical manner but also take part in eco-friendly practices. 

During our Half-Day Elephant Adventure in Phuket, you’ll get to feed our elephants and observe them in a natural environment. You’ll also get to visit our Elephant Dung Recycling Center, where you can create paper and biogas material from dung! We make sure sustainability is baked into every part of your experience at the reserve. If you have any more questions about our elephant tours or activities, contact us and our team will be happy to help. Here’s to more eco-friendly adventures!

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