When I wrote this article I was upset that the dive shops allowed the beach trash to pile up on their doorstep. However, the underlying problem is that the trash is there to begin with and travelers need to take responsibility to help prevent this problem. Please pick up your trash and if you visit Koh Tao and want to help, check out Master Divers who holds beach clean ups and promotes conservation efforts. Thanks!
Lately, something different has begun to nag at me as I’ve returned to one of my favorite countries – Thailand.
Maybe it began when we awoke in Phi Phi Island a couple of weeks ago just to find last night’s rubbish all along the small island’s coast.
Flip flops, beer bottles, water bottles, empty bags – the remnants of a good night out were not easily forgotten.
The location that just the night before had been home to several fire shows with hundreds of dancing tourists was now a landfill with no clean-up crew in sight.
I closed my eyes, laid out my sarong, and read my novel. I ignored the eye sore along with all the others, foreigners and locals alike. There was nothing I could do.
I needed to cool off and went in for a dip. As I took in the scene of jewel toned water against the impressive limestone cliffs, my relaxation was disturbed by two sensations.
First, I felt a smooth glass bottle at my feet. I thought, how dangerous, someone could cut their foot open.
Second, I felt a sharp pain. No, not the glass from the bottle. I felt a pang of guilt by the state of one of the most incredible oceans in the world.
I picked up two glass beer bottles from that ocean floor that day and placed them in what I could determine as a “trash bin”.
Saddened by the situation, yet succumbing to cowardice, I sought refuge in blissful ignorance.
Two weeks and two islands later, I arrive at Koh Tao, Thailand’s diving Mecca. I take notice that many of the dive shops advertise monthly beach clean ups and support environmental groups like Project Aware. Inspired, I hope to make a contribution during my time here.
Upon arrival at the beach I couldn’t have felt more distraught. The coast line was just as littered as Phi Phi if not worse.
Something boiled deep inside of me. How could the dive shops stand for this? Weren’t they advertising beach cleaning and boasting about having Eco labs staffed with marine biologists on site?
I walked over to see when the next clean up would take place. The banner stated December 20th but it was the month of May. In disbelief, I was utterly sick of the situation.
I could not and cannot understand it.
How can people with a passion for diving and thus a love for the ocean, stand by and just watch as the ocean swallows up their trash.
How can people stand for this?
I don’t yet know how or what but I feel this is it for me. I can no longer close my eyes to the situation. I have to find a way to help.
(The following month in June, I created the first official Recycle Event in Koh Phangan during my work exchange project. Although not a solution, I hope it’s a start To find out what I’ve been up to in South East Asia the past few months, check out this post.