In previous blogposts I described how various actors and organisations at Koh Tao got together to get the entire island involved in sustainability. This posts shows how they took it all a step further, showing how Koh Tao is really involved.
Get to know – Eco-Days
Making part of an ecologic and moreover fun community gets its heights at Koh Tao in the eco-days. However other islands and beaches are working together with Trash Hero to organise clean ups once a week, the eco-days of Koh Tao take it a bit further. It is really about getting involved, not only in the community by having fun at the barbecue and drinks after the clean-up; but as well in the topic, getting informed via lecturers and documentaries on an eco-topic before starting the clean-up. From coral bleaching to plastic trash, not only the reach is wide, so is the scope of the topics.
The latter is interesting as well in diving courses focused on sustainability, like project AWARE of Padi, which is not exclusive offered on the island. What I did noticed on the island in general is how several diving instructors – of course I cannot speak for all, because I did not speak to all –inform their students about the impact of human beings on the ocean, about how to keep the ocean healthy, or even about coral bleaching. And I actually did not even take diving courses in a diving school immediate connected to the above-mentioned initiatives. So, I am aware that there is a certain awareness created and growing on Koh Tao.
Moreover, there are local beach clean up initiatives as well, showing how everybody can be involved, every day.
Get to the source – stop the plastic
And it even goes further. Since plastic trash is a huge problem on the planet, and a way bigger problem on the oceans, a diving paradise as Koh Tao has to do something about it. They notice the effects immediately, see the impact of trash on ocean life, how turtles don’t come to the land anymore to breed their eggs, how sea life is disturbed severely, struck in the tentacles of human beings, plastic ruins marine life, like climate change ruins the coral. The sad thing is, until you dive into it, by informing yourself of have a look at first sight, you really don’t have a clue about what is going on. The ocean looks so peaceful, clean and undisturbed until you go below the surface.
So, keeping cleaning beaches while not stopping the plastic from coming in – or least the kind of plastic where they had control over, I’m not talking about the plastic arriving out of the sea, which is a serious global problem I have to address later on – but about the plastic consumed on the island. Plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic cups, name an object and it has a plastic counterpart. However, the two first ones are the most urgent ones to address. Everybody knows the picture of the turtle ending up with a plastic straw in its nose, or sea animals chocking with a plastic bag around their neck.
So one day, the island decided it was enough. Enough plastic. Enough trash. Since that day two major things changed: the plastic bags got banned in the local supermarkets, the 7-11 for sure, and the Pod Freshmarket as well; and some bars and restaurants banned plastic straws, using paper ones or none at all.
When writing this, Europe is tapping itself on the chest for eventually banning single-used plastic as well. Look at Koh Tao, they do it already, as other places in the world as well of course, on which I have reported before. This is it. This is the future, since plastic does not stop at the borders, every single country, every single island has to ban single used plastic, and Koh Tao takes a lead!
Eventually, I am happy the three days became three weeks, giving me all the time to check out the various initiatives, hoping that many islands will follow the exemplary role of Koh Tao, and moreover that every tourist, every diver, every single person visiting Koh Tao takes a bit of its wisdom home, or to the next place. Leaving no trace of trash behind, but one of inspiration and memories.
Next post, I’ll talk about diving, I promise.