Paradise lost?

Zo ziet het paradijs er waarschijnlijk uit
Some will call this paradise

What is more beautiful than white sands, blue sky and some waving palm trees? That’s what we imagine paradise to look like and Koh Tao’s quite close to it. But if you look carefully, you will see a lot of stuff on the beach. It is litter. Vera cannot control her urge to clean and starts picking up the waste. After some hard work “our” beach looks nice and clean again. Half an hour later, as we are sitting on a terrace, the litter is back again. It has all washed up from the ocean.

A walk on Chumphon beach made us realise that Koh Tao was not so bad after all. There’s a lot more waste here. It is kind of like treasure hunting, you never know what you will find. What is the strangest object you encounter? There is so much, from ear swabs to sun caps, bottles and tooth brushes.

Te veel om allemaal mee te nemen
Too much to take away

Koh Taos’s beaches are on average better looking than those around Chumphon. Although, if you look closely enough you will find a lot of items that are not supposed to be there. Luckily more people are cleaning the beaches here.

Get Involved organizes an Ecoday every month. Together with dozens of volunteers we visit a “beach” to clean. “Beach” in this case does not mean blindingly white sands, but also rock covered bays that hardly ever see a tourist. The waves and wind wash up waste from the ocean, which gets stuck in the rocks in those bays. Often it is plastic or styrofoam. We did not bring enough bags to pack up all the waste we find.

Ongelofelijk hoeveel vuil we opgehaald hebben
The result of a day of hard work
Onder water natuurlijk de nodige netten die het koraal bedekken
Ghost nets covering coral reefs

Our next beach clean-up was on World Ocean Day. This time we visited a touristic area which has been cleaned a couple of times before. Besides the familiar plastic there are also many shards of glass. While glass is not “bad” for marine life, it does pose a threat to humans. The pieces can be razor sharp!

Plastic en glas
Plastic and glass
Aangevreten rietje
Yummy! Straws!
De buit van 1,5 uur werken
About 1,5 hours of work



It is very satisfying to see the final result of our cleaning. But it is sad to realise that even remote and desolated beaches suffer from human activities elsewhere. What can we do? The clean-ups will be around for a very long time, but it is somewhat of a last resort.

So let’s take a look at what else we can do. Is it possible to stop the Plastic Soup from growing? This idea is what triggered Vera and 5 others to introduce the ZeroPlasticWeek. Prevention is better than cure!
Buying less plastic means less plastic waste which means a smaller Plastic Soup!

Next time we will discuss our findings on a ZeroPlasticWeek here in Thailand. It’s a completely different setting, with a different environment and different products. The challenges we face are sometimes different, sometimes familiar and the results are definitely worth looking at!