Last week (4th-11th June) saw the whole Master Divers team take on the Zero Plastic challenge and it was tough! All of us made a real effort to look at our habits and record how we got on so that we might be able to make changes in our own lives, and try to push for bigger changes that will be driven by traders, producers, supermarkets and governments. I have to offer up a big thanks to the team for getting on board with the challenge and taking the time out of their busy schedules to note and take pictures of their efforts. Everyone agreed that when we really started looking, plastic was everywhere!
The things we couldn’t change
There were a couple of areas that came up as ‘repeat offenders’ where we found it difficult to make any habitual changes in order to cut out the plastic. One of these was with dairy products- milk, yoghurt and butter packets in restaurants. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the island where you can get milk in a glass bottle! Sadly, I’m old enough to remember the milk delivery days so know that this is definitely how it used to work!
The other was with takeaways. Of course, we could cook at home but it’s not possible for all of us, I have an outdoor kitchen with one gas ring, so when it’s raining I’m pretty limited. Also after a long day diving, eating in a restaurant is a bit much and we want the comfort of our own home and to finally finish that episode of Netflix that we keep falling asleep to! Plastic bags were the big issue, with plastic forks sometimes being ‘hidden’ in card food containers, and sauces being individually put into smaller bags. It takes changes on both sides for us to make sure we are taking Tupperware to the restaurant when we order, or for places like Enjoy in Mae Haad that give you your takeaway in Tupperware and you get your ‘deposit’ back when you take it back.
There is also a massive lack of savoury snacks that aren’t in plastic. There is a no plastic shop where we can get nuts and cereals, but it’s expensive and therefore too easy to reach for a bag of crisps/chips or nuts all wrapped in plastic. Another thing that will need to come from producers and retailers for us to change. The same applies to toiletries and feminine hygiene. There are alternatives out there but they aren’t easily accessible on the island and the cost is higher.
The things we changed
On the plus side we all made great efforts to change things and had some great successes. Refusing plastic bags and straws was the easiest thing to do, and at Master Divers we have made great efforts to change our local restaurants to switch to reusable straws. Still more work to be done though! We were also able to reduce and for some eradicate plastic water bottles. A real challenge on an island without safe drinking water. We used glass water bottles and water refill stations based around the island to stay hydrated. Although more of each would definitely help!
There was also a massive change in people taking their own containers for takeaways, refusing chopsticks in plastic wrappers, and making different choices at meal times to not use plastic. Everyone tried really hard and we all saw how tough it was to have a completely plastic free day. This is definitely going to be an ongoing project for us all as we have had our eyes open to how much plastic we are going through on a daily basis.
It doesn’t have to be zero plastic week for you to try it out. Take some time to look at your options and try and go plastic free!