Working on sustainability is awesome, inspiring and rewarding, but doing it together with others is that even more! Tune in on next blogposts and #GetInvolved with the eco-gang of Koh Tao.
For some reason, my original ide of staying 3 days on Koh Tao turned out to be 3 weeks, which is a good thing, because it allowed me to dive deep. Not only in the ocean, following an Open Water and Advanced diving course, and diving into this huge storm, but in the topic of sustainability as well. Therefore, I needed more than 3 days, since there is so much going on on Koh Tao!
Getting everyone on board
I wrote already about the recycling and waste reducing initiatives, as well as about beach clean-up actions, while I haven’t written on other similar actions, such as diving schools giving rewards if you dive up trash and the supermarkets offering renewable bags with warning signs to protect the ocean.
Therefore, I needed to know what was driving Koh Tao’s sustainability actions. I met up with Marcel Van Den Berg, of Sairee Cottage Diving, who gave me a wide overview and broader understanding of what is going on, and still I probably haven’t seen it all yet.
The initiatives on Koh Tao go further back in the past and wider among the islanders, diving school, local businesses, and even the local government. Lots of people seem to be involved, which is probably why I like the name of one of the driving organisations behind it, GetInvolved.
And besides and even before Getinvolved, Save Koh Tao, and other individuals, diving schools and locals are working on sustainability as well, but GetInvolved wanted to make it bigger, broader and with more impact. They just wanted to get everyone involved!
Keep it cool – re-usable water bottles
To make things more understandable and concrete, let me give you an example. As we know trash is a huge problem on islands, as is potable water. To combine both problems in one simple genius solution, GetInvolved, together with Trash Heroes and all participating diving schools created and sell re-usable water bottles, which can be refilled for free at all participating diving schools. Which are too many to learn by heart, so they enlisted them on the bottle.
I love this solution because it saves a significant amount of trash to be produced, used and end up at the landfill, and at the same time it guarantees you have fresh water all day long, wherever you go on the island. By creating a wide distribution network, they actually tackle the often heard counterargument for using re-usable water bottles: ‘I want to have my water cool.’ You’re right, and now you have!
I like the idea and know that on other islands there are similar projects, however I don’t have the feeling they are as widespread as the one on Koh Tao, whereas I think its power lies in its extended network. Moreover, I like the social part of it. It makes you feel part of a kind of community, and gives you plenty of opportunities to talk to, perfect for the solo travellers or for the ones willing to meet people having at least 1 thing in common: caring about the planet.
And the story gets even better, which is for next blogpost.