On the way to a cleaner Koh Tao with Project AWARE

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On the way to a cleaner Koh Tao with Project AWARE

Our trash has gone viral  

Plastic pollution and the general trash problem have become global topics that we cannot – and should not – hide from any longer. If I open my Social Media accounts on any given day, I will find a variety of environmentally themed articles, infographics and video clips posted on my timeline:

The latest trend on Social Media supposedly kicked off with just a picture on Instagram in early March and went viral soon: Under the hashtag #trashchallenge users post their before-and-after pictures of public places which were in desperate need for a cleanup.

Or the numerous articles about Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who is responsible for starting the ‘school strikes for climate change movement’ and who challenges politicians with her moving speeches.

And of course, the video about the Guatemalan ‘Plastic River’ which first appeared on Youtube over a year ago and has been re-posted countless times since.



Video clips about pollution in Guatemala, articles about school strikes in Europe, pictures of trash in the States – all this seems so far away from a small tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand. You could argue that it is easy enough for us to forget about the problems in the ‘real world’ and simply enjoy a laid-back island lifestyle. However even on Koh Tao it is obvious that it’s time for a global change and this global change starts on a small scale with each and every single one of us.


Our adopted a dive site with Project AWARE

It’s been about a decade now since Elaine started walking her dogs up to Laem Thien bay and during these hikes she regularly picks up trash along the way. This eventually evolved into regular land and underwater clean ups by the whole Master Divers team and when in 2018 we were asked by Project AWARE if we officially wanted to adopt ‘our’ dive site we didn’t hesitate a second.

If you have never heard of Project AWARE before, they are a global movement for ocean protection, which is empowered by the diving community. They connect “the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation.



Ever since officially adopting Laem Thien, we keep an even closer eye on ‘our’ little bay over on the East side of Koh Tao and organise our monthly ‘Dive Against Debris’. This community event usually goes beyond just a cleanup dive and we normally include a (much needed) beach clean up and also invite snorkellers to give us a helping hand.


A special visit with a purpose

For this month’s Dive Against Debris, we had a very special visit from PADI Territory Director Tim Hunt and PADI Vice President Danny Dwyer. Not only did they give us a helping hand during the clean up, but they also presented us with a lot of interesting facts:

  • In total 299 Dives Against Debris have been recorded on Koh Tao alone and our dive yesterday was officially recorded as dive number 300!
  • Since the project launch in 2011 more than 50,000 divers have participated in Dive Against Debris in 114 countries around the world.
  • So far over 1 million pieces of trash have been recorded and we are aiming for the second million by 2020.



During the 60 minute clean up dive yesterday our 18 participants together collected 15.7kg marine debris (including a candle – which is slightly random). This data too will be uploaded and shared to the Project Aware database.


What can I do to help? Reuse, reduce, recycle! 

Even if you are not a diver (yet) or don’t have access to organised land clean up events near where you live, you can still help! Of course, you don’t have to become the world’s next Greta Thunberg, but it’s so easy to start your own #trashchallenge with your friends or colleagues, for example.

The ultimate solution to tackling the problem is by its roots and with the slogan ‘reuse, reduce, recycle’. The amount of single-use plastics in our everyday lives has gotten out of hand, but there are more and more alternatives for us as consumers, such as zero waste shops for example. Social Media is a very helpful tool for me to keep up to date and learn about what we can do to make a difference.

Which steps do you take for a greener & cleaner environment? Let me know in the comments!


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