A year ago, Master Divers helped coordinate the hugely popular and wonderfully successful Koh Tao Earth Day 2016. This event invited our beautiful island community together to participate in a day of land and underwater clean ups for the benefit of our environment. So this year, alongside the collective support of our local government and island residents… we decided to do it all over again!!
Earth Day falls on the 22nd of April. It is a day to focus on the beautiful blue planet we live on alongside all other species who inhabit it. So much fantastic life relies on the environment and fragile eco-systems to survive; however, unfortunately, our planet and our environment is changing and is evident of deteriorating due to human actions.
Our oceans have less fish than ever before. The climate is changing. Ocean temperatures are rising alongside ocean sea levels. New technologies such as fracking and drilling techniques are damaging the environment in unprecedented ways with unpredictable outcomes. More and more habitats are being destroyed for land and/or resources, causing more animals to become endangered and extinct. The health of our planet Earth is indisputably in decline.
Fortunately, there are some great organisations and great initiatives combatting the destruction of our environment, and many more countries and governments introducing environmentally friendly laws and regulations than ever before. Everyone can make a difference, and that is exactly what we aimed to do for the second year running! Earth Day 2017 was our event as a community to get together and help protect and preserve our island home, whilst simultaneously raising awareness and educating other island travellers on environmental issues. Now whilst there are many ways to help our environment, we decided to focus on plastic (more specifically Single-Use Plastics) as they have an immediate and everlasting negative effect on our environment and oceans.
Plastic never goes away. It is possible that every piece of plastic EVER produced is still on our planet in some form. Plastic production has increased 20 fold in the last 50 years and production continues to increase. 50% of all plastic production is merely single-use plastic such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic straws; designed and used for a short term convenience before being discarded (did you know 100 billion plastic bags are made every year? That’s 1 million every minute!). The majority of this plastic is sent as waste to landfill where it will stay and pollute the earth forever. However, a huge amount is discarded into our environment and oceans. Over 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year; there are currently 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans; and plastic will soon outweigh fish by 2050. This is a huge problem!
This year, we arranged an island wide land based clean up with over 250 volunteers where we removed 1,600 KG of trash and waste from the island, half of which was made from potentially recyclable materials. We then sent our 17 different boats to all our local dive sites who removed a further 500 KG from the ocean. This data was sent to Project AWARE for research and statistics on ocean trash. All participants and our island community along with government representatives all celebrated the days achievement with a huge party at The Hacienda with food stalls, game stalls, drinks and a generously donated raffle.
This year, the money raised is being put towards starting an island recycling centre to reduce the amount of waste we produce and to further responsibly manage the plastic, glass, and metal waste here on Koh Tao. We are encouraging dive centres on the island and other businesses to commit to reducing their single-waste plastics by becoming plastic free themselves. We hope this will spark a change of attitude on Koh Tao which alongside the support of the local government will allow us to ban certain single-use plastics in the future.
If you have not yet signed our petition to ban single-use plastic bags and reduce plastics on the island, please do so here!!