This July I say ‘NO’ to plastic!

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This July I say ‘NO’ to plastic!

This year, the Master Divers team decided to take part in the #plasticfreejuly challenge. This campaign is led by the Plastic Free Foundation and was initially launched in 2011. It aims at choosing to refuse single-use plastics for not only the month of July, but also on a more permanent basis.

The Plastic Free July Challenge is about to start

Our Instructor Adi was more than happy to volunteer for this challenge and these are her thoughts:

Why did I choose to participate?

Living on a tiny island like Koh Tao, I am aware that waste management is a big issue with having to transport the rubbish off the island to be treated, the burning of plastic waste or the unsatisfying solution of landfill. There is a recycling facility on the island so at least we are moving in the right direction, but the real solution is to avoid plastic altogether to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be recycled or treated.

My goal for this month is to refuse as much as possible single-use plastic and I already started collecting all the single use plastic that I did not manage to avoid. Even though I already have good habits when it comes to plastic use, I am taking up this challenge to see how much plastic I am using in my daily life without really noticing it and to see what the possible alternatives available on Koh Tao are. This experiment will hopefully help me find new ideas and create sustainable habits. One of my best friend started going zero waste in France and she has 3 kids under the age of 10, so if she can make it, I should be able to do it too.


I started by checking the Plastic Free July website to assess my plastic usage. Since I started living on Koh Tao and working for Master Divers I already gave up the top four single-use plastics:

  • Plastic bags – I try to always carry a reusable bag with me and if end up with a plastic bag, I use it as a bin bag or to transport my wet clothes after diving.
  • Coffee cups – I do not drink coffee and never really use disposable coffee cups, but I used to drink a lot of take-away fruit shakes that generally come in a plastic cup. I said goodbye to those and now use my blender at home to prepare my own shakes.
  • Water bottles – Since you cannot drink tap water in Thailand, buying water bottles seems unavoidable. However, I use a big water dispenser at my house and at work or use a reusable bottle.
  • Plastic straws – Saying “no straw” when ordering a drink has become second nature and “no spoon” as well when ordering take away food to refuse plastic cutlery. Metal straws and bamboo straws are great alternatives to plastic straws, because it is sometimes difficult to drink a smoothie or a cocktail without a straw. Otherwise, drink like an adult!

What habits do I need to change?

Disclaimer: This picture of Adi was taken years ago, before she knew to say ‘no!’ to plastic straws and learned to drink like an adult… 😉

Taking a closer look at my current plastic-habits, I realized that there are a few habits I need to change and these are some of them:

  • Take away food – I am not cooking very often so I eat most of the time out or eat take away food. Packing a re-usable container is not yet one of my habits so that if I stop quickly at a food stall on my way home after work my food will most likely come with plastic packaging.
  • Snacks – Crisps, sweets, biscuits, chocolate and ice creams come mostly in plastic packaging and this July I am going to try to avoid them altogether, but does this mean that my diet will get healthier? I am pretty sure I will quickly find plastic free options…
  • Yogurt – I did not see any yogurt on Koh Tao sold in glass jar, but I have to admit that I did not really look yet. Making the effort of going plastic free for July may expand my food shopping options.
  • Bin bags – I am planning to stop buying bin bags but to use the (few) plastic bags that I did not manage to avoid as rubbish bags.

I started new habits already, for instance I made sure that the laundry company that I use is not using any plastic bags. It is indeed quite rare on Koh Tao for people to own a washing machine and instead we use the services of shops that do our laundry for us. When I am choosing my new shop, price is not the only factor that I take into consideration. If I do not have any impact on the detergent that they use, I can make sure that they will not give me my clean laundry back in a plastic bag, but instead use the reusable bag that I provided.

What type of single-use plastic might be difficult to avoid

The main single-use plastics that I think will be difficult to avoid are toiletries or medication. Even though I am already using bar soap or fresh aloe vera instead of after sun lotion, I am still planning to use shampoo, conditioner (this is mandatory after diving!), moisturizer, sun protection or contact lenses – and they all come in plastic packaging. I know that there are DIY options, but I am not sure if this is a step that I am ready to take – but I am willing to look into it. And so far, I am drawing the same conclusion for all the cleaning products that I use to take care of my house, since they all come in plastic packaging.


But there might be some alternatives that I am so far completely overlooking. I think this challenge is going to help me question the plastic waste that I am producing and is hopefully going to help me find some alternatives and sustainable habits to avoid as much as possible plastic waste.

Let’s get in touch at the end of the month to find out more about my success (hopefully) and look at the areas where I could still improve.

Photo credits: unsplash, Plastic Free July Org, private

2 Comments on This July I say ‘NO’ to plastic!

  1. commented by Sue on 12 July 2019

    Well done Adi! Looking forward to getting your advice on new ways to avoid single use plastic 🙏

    1. commented by Sarah Gladzewski on 14 July 2019

      We’re very proud of our team members who volunteered for this challenge. They are a great inspiration and we will share some of their tips on our blog later this month!

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