Thailand’s One Finger Rule – The Plastic Bag Phenomenon

The one finger carrying strap

The one finger carrying strap

One thing that’s very noticeable after spending any amount of time in Thailand is the heavy use of plastic bags – all sizes and shapes.

In fact, one of the Thai culinary life skills is being able to tie a plastic bag with a rubberband that includes a nice little air bubble at the top (to make it beautiful, of course).

This brings me to my next point: there are lots of unwritten rules in Thailand and one of them has to do with plastic bags – and though this rule goes for everything – it happens to always pop-up in the food sector.

For lack of any better ways to put it, I simply call it the “one finger rule.”

Bagged and bagged again

Bagged and bagged again

Thailand’s One Finger Policy

Whatever you purchase, no matter how big or small or what size or shape, it must be packaged in a plastic bag or wrapper to make it carry-able by just a single finger.

Now due to weight, you may or may not be able to carry it with just one finger, but it must be possible for one to carry it with just one finger.

Can you carry a bottle of juice or a cup with just one finger? Not unless it has a handle. So that’s why nearly all beverages are put in plastic bags (or sometimes one finger carrier straps as pictured at the top).

Ice is put in plastic bags, drinks are put in plastic bags, sauce is put in plastic bags, and even bags are bagged in plastic bags.

As long as whatever you sell or whatever you buy is bagged and bagged again until you’ve got something that can be carried by one finger, you’re good to go!

And you know what the funny thing is?

I’ll often go shopping at the market and accumulate a bunch of diffferent things and realize how convenient it is to have a drink hanging from one finger, some mangoes on another finger, and a few skewers of sai krok dangling from my index finger – all because the vendors followed the rule!

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