In celebration of Earth Day, dive schools around the island came together to do a full day, in and out of water island clean up!
The work began in the morning; volunteers received three different colors of garbage bags. The green bags were for recyclables, the white bags for single-use plastics, and the black bags for all general trash. Island residents and tourists alike crowded the streets, picking up all trash in sight. Cigarette butts were one of the most common finds with plastic straws being a close second. Though these items may seem small and insignificant, they pose a high danger to many marine animals who mistake them for food.
After a successful land clean up divers packed their gear and boarded the boats. Armed with bags, dive knives, and scissors, the crews dove into the big blue. Though trashed varied by site (everything from plastic bags to candy wrappers to plastic water bottles), at Aow Lang Khai our New Heaven team brought up bags full of fishing line and discarded nets, much of which had been entangled in corals. Abandoned fishing nets are not only a danger to the reef but many of the organisms that live there; reef sharks and fish often get caught in the nets and die.
Post dive, the bags from both morning and afternoon cleanups were loaded into pickup trucks and hauled to Maehaad Pier. In total, volunteers around the island collected and sorted over two tons of garbage!
Though 1,800 kilos is quite significant, globally the amount of human-derived material that enters the ocean is astronomical. The World Economic Forum reports that a study from 2015 estimated that more than 8,000,000 metric tons of plastic enters the oceans every year. Much of this single-use plastic that could be greatly reduced by educated consumerism.
For starters, say no to plastic straws. Metal and bamboo straws are a great alternative and are sold around the island, including in our dive school! Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute. Carry a reusable tote bag to reduce the number of plastic bags you use, such as those from 711. Refill your reusable water bottle at our shop or other dive schools around the island. For those places that don’t offer water for free, usually for a five or ten baht donation you can fill your bottle and avoid buying a single-use plastic bottle for even more money. It’s a win-win situation!
Since it’s foundation in 1970, Earth Day has become globally recognized. However, our planet has also changed a lot since 1970. Check out this video by the Museum of Natural History to learn more about global changes since 1970, both positive and negative. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xClCgciaSYM
To learn more about the impact single-use plastic has on our environment and to learn how you can reduce your impact visit The Last Plastic Straw, an organization whose mission is to educate about and reduce plastic consumption.
Earth Day reminds us to think about our planet and the wonderful, diverse home it provides us. However, we need to remember every day to care for this home and to treat it in a respectful, sustainable way. Let’s make every day Earth Day.
Check out our facebook to see more photos from Earth Day 2018!
Intro Group Photo by Lara Dakers