The goal of our Debris Master Plan is to reduce the supply of rubbish on the island, to complement the work being done by the Save Koh Tao Group to manage the rubbish dump site. With monsoon season over for Koh Tao we are anxious to get all of our projects up and running again, and invite new professional divers from Koh Tao to get involved with our activities. Over the last few months, we have been working on all of the planning and details of the 4 parts of the Debris Master Plan. On January 23rd we had a meeting to regroup and for each team leader to give an update on the status of their projects:
Beach and Road Clean-up Crew
This goal of this project is to have a daily clean-up crew to go around the island picking up litter, sweeping, emptying bins, etc. The team will consist of 3 people, and will be overseen by a staff member at Big Blue Dive School. The daily salary of the team will amount to about 1,000 THB per day, which will be raised from the local restaurants and resorts. Each buniess will pledge a certain donation amount, and will receive a plague or poster thanking them on keeping Koh Tao Clean for ___ days (the number of days will be calculated at 1,000 THB per day, ie if they give 20,000 they get a plaque saying they have kept the island clean for 20 days.)
Right now we are designing the plaques and a 1 page info sheet to use when approaching the businesses. We have already created a list of businesses based on who we know, and once the marketing materials are ready we will be ready to start soliciting donations and getting the team going around the island.
Signage and awareness campaign
This project consists of creating enough unique and educational signs that tourists will be reminded to be respobsible no matter where they go. There will be three sign types:
- Small hand painted signs to go on walking roads, in front of bins, business fronts, etc (about 200 signs in English and Thai)
- Road signs which will use the cartoons created by ‘Big Dave’ of Roctopus Dive
- Beach entrance signs which will be large, printed sings that outline beach use ‘do’s and don’ts’, maps, recycling points, etc.
To date we have painted about 100 sings in English at the PADI Eco Day in late 2012, and still need to do another 100 in Thai. The road signs are designed and printed, and need to be placed on attractive stands and put along the roads. The Beach entrance signs still need to be designed and printed before they can go out.
Beach Bins Project
The beach bins have to be specially designed to be attractive, efficient, weather proof, long-lasting, and easily maintainable. We have made our decisions on the bin designs, and have incorporated an ash tray and available space for marketing into the design. The design utilizes the plastic bins that are already available and in-use around the island to facilitate replacement when needed. In addition to bins, we will also be installing plastic bag recycling tubes outside of each convenience store on the island.
The designs for this project are already complete, and the next stage is to get them produced locally and to also solicit additional funding from the Save Koh Tao and Ob-Bor-Tol for the long term maintenance of the bins.
Rubbish reduction campaign
In our discussions, we realized that there are many alternatives to the way businesses is done on Koh Tao that are both cheaper and environmentally friendly. Some examples are already in use in dive schools or restaurants and have been successful, such as using returnable glass bottles, providing reusable take-away packages, etc. For this project, we will first administer a survey to local businesses to get an idea of their current waste stream sources and quantities. Next, we will provide them with a manual on the alternatives, including the prices and where to find materials or products. After 1 year, we will re-administer the surveys, and see if our efforts have decreased the waste streams, and evaluate what can be done to further improve the rubbish situation on our island.
This will be the longest project of the master plan, and probably the slowest to develop. At the moment we are preparing the surveys and also the manual.
We are excited to move ahead with this campaign, and looking forward to seeing the outcomes of our work and use of the Project Aware funding. We always welcome more help, as this is a large undertaking for our volunteers. Thank you for your support!