If you’ve already visited Master Divers, or have been following us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or reading our blogs for a while, you will have noticed we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.
As ambassadors for our underwater world and also Koh Tao in general, we are passionate about doing everything we can to minimise the environmental impact we have, as well as implement programmes, policies and events to educate others too. This is something that we are incredibly passionate about – and its not just paying lip service with us, when it comes to environmental awareness, we’re the real deal!
Thankfully, we are not the only business on Koh Tao that is becoming more environmentally aware. We do, however, offer a lot more than the bare minimum when it comes to doing our bit. Some other dive centres get together once a month for a clean up day. Every little helps, so this is a great initiative, but we believe more than 1 clean up a month between half a dozen businesses is required to really make any impact.
So….What does Master Divers Do Differently?
We employ a full time Eco instructor, Hayley, who organises weekly beach and roadside clean ups for staff and guests to help remove garbage that has washed ashore, and prevent any further trash from being taken by the sea. Having just a few people volunteer an hour of their time to spend cleaning up the beachfront or road area makes a huge difference. This year, we plan on weighing and tracking how much trash we collect, so we can keep a tally of how much trash we’ve removed.
Hayley also works with the Koh Tao local government and local businesses to educate and encourage others to be more environmentally friendly in their practices – for example how to reduce plastic bags in local stores, and looking at solutions to reduce plastic waste from cups and straws in bars and restaurants too.
We run regular snorkeling and scuba diving clean ups at various dive sites (depending on which are the most in need), and have championed the abandoned beach of Laem Thien as our responsibility too.
We have environmental policies in the shop and onboard our boats. We do try to educate those outside the island as well as our own customers and those who live here.
We’ve written several blog posts on the topic on environmental initiatives, such as the ‘top 10’ things to reduce your plastic waste, and how to make natural household cleaning products to reduce your chemical waste.
We sell reusable straws as well as reusable drinking bottles and cloth shopping bags and encourage our guests to reduce their usage of plastic – and single use plastic in particular.
We are heavily into recycling. In the corner of the reception area, there is a custom made collection bin in which our customers – and even passrs by – can dispose of their recyclable goods (water bottles, batteries, aluminum cans, and paper or cardboard products).
We offer Marine Conservation Packages and Marine Conservation Adventure Dives with our courses, which provide customers with a deeper insight into the issues that face the ocean environment. This includes a presentation evening and a marine conservation dive.
We run Coral watch dives to monitor and report on the health of our reefs, and also report into the DMCR (Department of Marine and Coastal resources) on any sightings of any species of rare/endangered/protected marine life that our divers or staff spot.
We have created and deployed structures which have increased the scope and size of artificial reefs.
We sell natural and environmentally friendly sun screen and mosquito spray.
We have strict no feeding and no touching policy for all of our dive and snorkel trips, and display codes of conduct for interactions with marine life at the dive centre and on our vessels – and ensure this is covered in our boat and dive briefings.
We are an official Shark Guardian Dive centre, and run regular events and presentations to educate divers, other tourists and local residents on how they can do more to protect marine life.
We don’t throw any waste into the ocean. Even biodegradable waste like leftover fruit gets brought back to last and disposed of properly (we use it for compost!).
Our smaller boat is 100% no smoking to eliminate accidental littering. There is a designated smoking area on the bigger boat, and while our customers are welcome to smoke on the larger of our vessels, you wont find our staff smoking on either of our boats.
We are heavily involved in local government meetings on conservation policies. We are committee members in planning the annual Save Koh Tao Festival, organise special events for all Ocean Days, and we are one of the founders and main organisers of Koh Tao Earth day.
We have a free water refill station, so our customers don’t need to buy plastic bottles every time they need a drink. We are also an official refill station for Trash Hero bottles. So anyone who has one of the metal trash hero reusable bottles can come in and refill for free!
We have reusable cups and mugs both in the dive centre and out on the boats. In the dive centre we also have reusable plates and tupperware containers our customers can use on their lunch breaks so they don’t need to get any food in plastic bags or in single use containers.
We use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions so as not to add chemicals to the water supply. We flush our toilets with salt water which preserves the sometimes scarce ground water supplies.
We ensure that both sides of every piece of paper is used, and old/discarded paper is used for scrap/to do lists etc.
We offer PADI eLearning (online), PADI Touch (app based) and digital manuals, all of which replace the need for physical books. This not only offers divers convenience but also saves on the paper used to create the book
We try to reuse or re purpose everything we can – even the most obscure things can have a second life. Right now for example, we are saving up all of our old fins, and hope to be able to build an artificial structure with them, or even fashion them into slates to make a roof for a shelter at our local animal clinic!
You can read more about our environmental activities by looking at the environmental category on the blog.