< Go back

Our adventures

Farewell 2018

A Roundup of our Conservation Activities


Farewell 2018… and hello 2019!

Another year at Master Divers has flown by and what a year it’s been. I managed to get through the year without breaking any bones, we had Katie join us after winning the Master Divers Life competition, and Koh Tao has the first 7 Eleven that doesn’t use plastic bags. Looking back over the year it feels like yesterday that I came back to the island and taught Caroline and Catherine their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course and  PADI Wreck Diver Specialty; I taught their PADI Open Water Diver course in 2017 about 3 days before injuring myself. It was a great way to have a mental reset and get back into the driving seat of both teaching and being in charge of the conservation aspects. Big shout out to Kevin for filling in for me while I was away of course.


Catherine and Caroline (my scuba offspring) join us again for more courses

What happened so far?

I feel like 2018 has been an awakening for a lot of people about climate change and the evils of plastic. I was in the UK at the end of 2017 when David Attenborough’s Blue Planet was airing and there seemed to be a shift in attitudes which has developed over the last year. I no longer feel like that annoying, self-righteous friend/relative that lives overseas and tells everyone back in the UK how they should be living their life. More and more restaurants, hospitality groups, towns, and counties are switching to reusable straws, there is more awareness surrounding single use plastics in general, and with current political climates more people are prepared to speak out and stand up for what they believe in. There is talk that UK could ban single use plastic by 2020! Call me an optimist, but maybe this is the start of the change we need to protect our planet for future generations?

Clean Up Dive at our adopted Dive Site ‘Laem Thian’

On our lovely rock this year we have had some fantastic successes. More and more of our bars and restaurants are now using plastic straw alternatives, which created an issue for us in terms of suppliers! With help from the Koh Tao Earth Day group we have sourced new straws of different sizes and materials and assisted other islands in Thailand with sourcing the products for themselves. At the date this was written we had sold just over 1200 packets of paper straws to our local bars and restaurants, just over 4600 metal and bamboo individual straws and 460 straw cleaners. That is a grand total of 41,630 individual straw alternatives!


Goodbye, plastic bags!

The other major plastic obstacle is bags. Again 2018 has been incredibly successful and I’m so proud that along with PADI, Master Divers has been part of the change. Earlier in the year we took part in zero plastic week and all recorded our struggles, and on occasion where we failed completely. One of the biggest culprits was with plastic bags, which we were being offered for the smallest of purchases. We had heard that POD, one of our local supermarkets, was trialing charging for plastic bags to encourage people bringing their own reusable bags but that they had encountered some issues from customers that weren’t able, or keen, to pay for a bag… the T-Bag was born! With a bit of research, and encouragement from Lynne our resident seamstress, we found instructions for creating bags from t-shirts that required no sewing at all and started collecting old t-shirts from dive schools and residents across Koh Tao. We spoke to POD and they loved the idea and made their own bags from old uniform t-shirts! Things then started to speed up and when PADI heard about our efforts and sent us 2 huge boxes of 50 years of PADI tote bags that we added to the donations and delivered to POD and Pen wholesale for free distribution among their customers. Now we can proudly say that 7 eleven is the first in Thailand to not have single use plastic bags, POD, Chaiwat and Pen wholesale have stopped giving out plastic bags and charge a fee for permanent alternatives. Step by step we are changing habits and making a difference.



Pod, Master Divers and PADI joining forces


Our Adopted Dive Site

One of our other notable achievements of the year is our clean up efforts. We’re trying to stop the plastic getting in the ocean to start with, but also going to great efforts to clean what is already there. As well as our monthly Project Aware Dive Against Debris at our adopted dive site Laem Thien, we have also had regular beach cleans on our local beach and streets. This year we have collected a grand total of 2520.2 kg! This of course wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated Master Divers Team, our Dive Master Candidates, and every customer that has joined us for street and beach clean ups, or dives. Many hands really do make light work! Speaking of which… we had 2 island wide clean ups this year. This first in April for Earth Day was a massive effort to clean up land and ocean by over 40 different dive schools. There were so many ‘moving pieces’ to the organisation that I was terrified it wouldn’t work, not helped by the fact that the night before I was struck down with food poisoning and missed the entire day. Another thank you to Kevin for stepping in! It did work, however, and was a huge success building on previous years’ efforts. We then organised a second land clean up in September for world clean-up day, which happened to fall on the first day of AWARE week for Project Aware. I managed this one! It was another wonderful day with so many people from across the island- customers, dive schools, and local police. We’re super proud of everyone’s efforts and with the 2 days combined we removed 1423.6kgs from land and water!

Team effort on our latest clean up!


None of Master Divers successes would have been possible without the huge team involvement. From our ever present and happy shop staff, our back office team organising our lives, dive masters, instructors and boat crews getting out in the water come rain or shine, and all the customers, including dive master candidates, that have passed through our doors and assisted us with clean-up efforts. To everyone, past and present, that is part of the Master Divers family… Thank you. If 2019 is a patch on last year I’ll be holding my head high with pride by the end.

Leave a reply

Chat on whatsapp