We believe that there are small steps that everyone can take to reduce their contribution to the growing problem of plastic waste, some of the following points are specific to Koh Tao but can easily be adapted to where you live.
Here are some ideas.
1) Buy a cloth bag and use it and refuse plastic bags. When going veggie shopping, your tomatoes really won’t mind if the go in the cloth bag and get mixed up with your onions, you really don’t need a separate plastic bag for each vegetable! Many places sell these cloth bags, at Master Divers, ours are just 100B
a. Mai aow tung plastik kap – I don’t want a plastic bag.
2) Refuse straws when you buy a drink that doesn’t need one or ask for a glass instead. If you have a business here, stop giving straws out and supply them by request only. You can put up posters to explain this decision to your customers.
a. Mai aow lud kap – I don’t want a straw.
b. Khoa Keaw kap – Can I have a glass please?
3) Refill your water bottles! At Master Divers we have a free refill point for our customers. Anyone is welcome to come and use it and leave a 10B donation for each 1.5L for Land Conservation Koh Tao or the Animal Clinic.
a. If you live here, don’t use individual bottles, buy one of the big ones and refill. You can either buy a water cooler unit for around 3,000B or a simple cradle from Chai Watt for 360B.
b. If you don’t like this water then buy a filter system for your home from Chumphon or Samui for as little as around 2,000B.
c. If you own a business here – install a refill point for your customers – it doesn’t have to be free and you won’t lose money on your water sales – you’ll actually earn, while saving a huge amount of waste for the island you depend on for your income. The unit itself is just 3,000B. Each 20L bottle will cost just 20B and will refill 13 bottles at 1.5L each. At 10B a refill this means 110B profit per 20L bottle. Your cooler unit will have paid for itself after just 27 large bottles and then everything is a bonus!
I understand that minimizing plastic bottles means that money won’t be earned from the recycling but why not make the water refill station the business of the person who was earning money from the recycling.
Current thinking says that you shouldn’t reuse normal plastic bottles so often due to the chemicals they start to leech but you can buy a food grade bottle. While I admit, they are still plastic, I feel it’s better to have one of these and re-use it many, many times than a new single use bottle each time. These are quite hard to get hold of and until now not available on the island. We tracked some down and you can buy them at Master Divers. We have a smaller one which is 70B and a larger one with a cup and o-ring for 100B. Both of these fit very nicely inside the Cooler Jackets too.
4) Do not buy pre-packed fruit. It might be nicely chopped and cored but it comes in a plastic bag, go next door to the fruit shop and buy fruit without the plastic!
5) If you are on the 1-2-Call Network, then the 7-11 sells this on a slip of paper and not on scratch cards wrapped in plastic. So far all DTAC seems to be on scratch card alone.
6) Refill your shampoo, conditioner and face scrub containers at Avalon. You can actually make your own shampoo using baking soda and conditioner with vinegar too, which comes in a glass bottle instead.
7) Use baking soda as deodorant – this really works and saves a huge amount of plastic deodorant bottles, just use a powder puff to apply it like talcum powder. If you don’t like this idea then grab yourself a mineral stick from Avalon and use that, they last for years!
8) Consider each bit of plastic you purchase, milk doesn’t come here in glass but there are cartons. Chocolate milk is my biggest weakness yet there is chocolate milk in a glass bottle and also a really good chocolate soya milk in a large carton.
9) If you get take away a lot, buy a Tiffin or supply your favorite spots with your own re-usable containers, put your name and house number on them and then each time you get delivery swop the delivery guy for a clean one. If your staff and customers regularly take away from a regular place, do the same for them too. If you use a street stall, many of them have proper bowls, use them, otherwise take your own and just give it a rinse and pop it in your bag when you are finished. It really doesn’t take much organizing, and don’t get me started on plastic cutlery!
10) Recycle! This is actually a misnomer as plastic bottles aren’t really recycled, they are down-cycled. What I mean by this is that a plastic bottle will never be another plastic bottle, it is processed and becomes lower grade plastic. So while re-cycling isn’t the answer, minimizing your single use consumption is, when you have used a plastic bottle – make sure it goes in the right place.
Most importantly, pass this on, to new arrivals, to your friends, to the businesses you use. Every little bit of single use plastic we save is a victory. The more each of us takes notice and leads by example, the greater impact we will have. ‘No one else bothers, so why should I’ is not the attitude, be the bigger person and know you did your best to reduce the plastic legacy we leave behind.
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