According to the pocket guide on Koh Tao I’m offered on the island, 6 tons of waste is produced a day, which is far above the waste disposal capacity of Koh Tao.
Hence, getting rid of it at the right way is a serious challenge, which has to go via the 3R’s.
First of all: reduce and re-use
For instance, instead of buying potable water in plastic bottles, buy a re-usable one. If you did not take a bottle of home or bought it somewhere on the road, a dedicated initiative on Koh Tao can provide you with one, which can be used at all participating refilling points.
I do have for instance one bottle I’m filling up my entire travel, and I’m carrying alone a filter as well which I can use when no potable water refilling points are available.
Another way is avoiding plastic bags. Take along a re-usable bag, and again, if you did not take one of home, but in Thailand you can buy linen bags wherever you go – with the name of your favorite city, travel quote or animal, some supermarkets in Koh Tao offer you dedicated re-usable shopping bags.
So, if you buy something, people will offer you a plastic bag, and probably a second or a third to keep on wrapping. In that case, step up, don’t take it, offer your own bag, you will make both the environment and the shop attendants happy. Keep smiling, you’re in the land of smiles. These are basic rules for basic steps towards a sustainable world wherever you are.
And just a small reminder, don’t buy take-away food which will be wrapped in single-use containers, just eat at a local eatery, and enjoy the local scenery.
Of course, this will not keep waste from coming, so by all means, don’t pile it into one-bin-fits-all kind of waste bins. But do an effort to carry your waste along a bit longer and bring it to dedicated recycling points. On many islands I’ve seen some, as of course on the mainland. In Koh Tao in particular, there is at least one very elaborated one. Moreover, I’ve seen other plastic bottle collecting points, so at least there is the possibility.
Moreover, since the entire trash issues with China, we should extremely reconsider our recycling issues – but I’ll come back on this later on. To put things short: if waste is not sort out well, it becomes useless for recycling; making recycling companies less likely to take it, and eventually letting it end up in the trash pile anyways.
Unfortunately, a lot of waste ends up anywhere but where it really belongs. Which is an unfair battle many islands, as Koh Tao, have to fight. The Koh Tao community provides an answer, focusing on heroes instead of zero (waste).
Various organisations on the island teamed up to address the islands’ most specific sustainability concerns, but that is for next blogposts, keep focussed, stay involved and GetInvolved (hint).