Guest Blog #1 Koh Tao by Ayesha Cantrell, Master Divers

Clean ups really make me mad, not doing them but the fact that they have to be done.  It amazes me that the human race has come so far but we still don’t seem to be able to dispose of our litter and waste properly.

I’m one of the owners of Master Divers  which is a dive centre located on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand.  It’s a small island that sees a lot of visitors and it angers me that some just don’t take care.  After all people visit because it’s beautiful: so why leave your rubbish on the beach where you have been lounging all day?  Who do you think is going to pick it up? Clearly this is not everyone but it only takes a small percentage.  Don’t they realize their rubbish is likely to end up in the ocean destroying the marine life that you have come here to snorkel and dive with ?

A particular example of this would be a small cove on Koh Tao called Laem Thien. This little bay once played host to a resort which has since been abandoned.  The road is overgrown but it makes a great hike and it’s often visited by members of our team.  The resort is like a ghost town and spooky but great fun.  Visitors hike there too and we have noticed on our visits that the resort has accumulated a lot of plastic bottles  and other general rubbish which apparently visitors to the bay have left.  I’m not sure who they thought would take them away or why, as the bottles were empty, it was such a hassle to carry them back.  We have made this cove our pet project now and regularly go to clean it up.    On our last trip we collected, amongst many other things, 7 large rubbish bags full of just plastic bottles alone. We have now sited large bins and notices so atleast the rubbish is safe from reaching the ocean.

This nicely brings me to the next topic that makes my blood boil, single use plastic! The relationship to its consumption and any clean up you will have participated in is direct.  If not, spend 30 min with 2 hands clearing up and you’ll almost certainly see what I mean. Thailand has yet to lay down any rules regarding plastic bags so the amount consumed is immense add to that the fact that tap water isn’t safe to drink and you have a plastic mountain. As we all know plastic bags are extremely dangerous to marine life and plastic in general is infected our day to lives at an alarming rate.  So while I certainly do agree we need to keep our environment tidy and waste free, if we limited our waste to start with we wouldn’t be feeding the cycle.   And you know what – this isn’t difficult to do !

Personally the team have looked at their lives and minimized as much single use plastic as they can. In our house we use large returnable and refillable drinking water containers, refill our toiletries bottles, use a mineral stick deodorant and carry re-usable cloth shopping bags for groceries etc… We’ve implemented similar measures in our dive centre too.  Free water refills are available and divers are encouraged to use our re-usable take-away pots when going out for take-away.  We provide re-usable beakers for those who pop out to get a refreshing fruit shake from the nearby vendors too. We sell branded cloth bags with a no plastic message and we use them in the day-to-day dive centre tasks too.  We think carefully about each purchase and don’t buy, for example, single service coffee sachets.  We lobby suppliers where possible; our t-shirt supply doesn’t individually wrap in plastic anymore which was a huge win!

Education on the issue is key.  We explain the issue to every guest; we have also created a t-shirt to help spread the message too.  We have filmed a short video and are currently very involved with an island wide project to limit the use of plastic straws; as more bars and restaurants get involved more want to be involved.

Check out the video here,  “>at2bui-tGLU

As I said, it didn’t take much thought or cost a lot either but the impact it’s had on the waste produced is incalculable.

So please don’t just take 30 mins with 2 hands to clean your environment, take 30 mins and think about how to limit your contribution to this cycle too and help to stop feeding the plastic mountain!

Ayesha Cantrell

Master Divers, Koh Tao

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