When Backpacking around Thailand you will notice in some locations they are not quite at the same level of eco-friendliness compared to Western countries. On Koh Tao the local community does their best to make this small island a leading light in the area of Eco-Tourism and sustainability for this tropical paradise.
Here are some Eco tips when backpacking to help make your journey through Koh Tao and Thailand more eco-friendly and help to preserve our oceans and a more sustainable world.
Say ‘No’ To Plastic
All shops in Thailand from local to big chain convenience stores are ever too eager to throw whatever you want to buy into a plastic bag. If you are only picking up small items ask yourself “do I really need a bag for my chocolate bar?”
By saying ‘no’, you can reduce the amount of bags being used as they are extremely difficult to dispose of as it can take up to 1000 years to decompose. They are also extremely dangerous to marine life and unfortunately Sea Turtles mistake them for food and ingest it and can cause them to suffocate.
Buying your own bio-degradeable bags before you travel will mean that you can say no to plastic bags completely.
I’m not talking about watching how much you drink as that is up to you but you should be thinking about how you drink it. Many bars will automatically place a plastic straw into your drink, whether it’s a can of coke or your fancy cocktail.
Plastic straws come under the same category as plastic bags and are in the top 10 marine debris items, with plastic constituting over 90% of the trash floating in the world’s oceans. So by asking the bartender not to place a straw in your drink you are helping.
You could also buy your own water container back home or here in Thailand to reduce the amount of plastic bottles you need. Thailand is a very hot country and you will have to stay hydrated during your travels, meaning your water bottle consumption is going to be high.
Here at Crystal we offer a cheaper and more sustainable solution of a water fountain in the office which customers can use and if they purchase a water container from us it is completely free to use.
As we have already mentioned, unless you purchase a water container you will be using many plastic bottles to keep yourself hydrated. But before you decide to throw the bottle away look for somewhere to recycle it, as there are numerous recycle bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
Here at Crystal Dive we have 3 recycle stations alone. More and More resorts around Thailand are taking these measures to help the local environment. If you are unsure of where to find this service you should ask your hotels reception for help on finding somewhere to recycle.
However careful you may be it is inevitable you are going to create some trash so make sure you dispose of it responsibly. A very common form of lazy trash found around tourist areas in Thailand are disregarded beer bottles, quite often people are having too much of a good time to remember to clean up after themselves and leave the empty bottles were they have finished drinking them.
If left on the beach and the tide changes this garbage gets washed into the ocean and it becomes dangerous for marine life. By taking 5 mins extra to find a bin it could be saving a great amount of harm.
For those who like to smoke, ensure you dispose of your cigarette butts properly. There is nothing worse than finding the perfect spot on the beach to have a lie down and relax only to find upon closer inspection it has been used as an ashtray.
Buying locally crafted gifts can enable you to pass on unique presents to your friends and family when you return home from your travels. Buying from local artisans contributes to the local economy and handicraft traditions keeping craftsmen in business.
This will reduce the effects of pollution and greenhouse gases as mass-produced souvenirs are shipped around the world from industrial countries that are just bland compared to items made by skilled craftsmen.
Also buying locally produced fruits or shakes instead of buying chocolate and canned drinks reduce the amount of carbon needed to move these products around plus it’s also better for your health
When you arrive on Koh Tao most people are looking to get their PADI and become a scuba diver as Koh Taois recognised as an island paradise both above and below the water. But after becoming certified you can take courses to educate yourself even more on the effects the human race are having on marine life and how we can make a difference.
Eco Koh Tao offer a variety of courses aimed at creating better awareness and education on how to be more eco minded underwater and to spread the word far and wide. Their mission is to empower people to believe that change can happen and they can make a difference in the act of marine conservation.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)