Sustainable eco projects on the Koh Phi Phi Islands

How sustainable companies serve the environment of the Phi Phi Islands

 

Don´t bin it, Eco-brick it
Blue View Divers collects plastic waste and makes eco-bricks from it

 

Ideas for recycling or other environmentally conscious activities

This article might help you with ideas for sustainable and eco-friendly projects, waste recycling, environmental conscious activities and which organisations can help with this. Maybe you´re want to take responsibility for the environment and are working for a dive centre or holiday accommodation, or you might be running or owning a dive centre or other touristic product company.

For the conscious traveller or diver who wants to serve the environment and help to protect the oceans

But even for travellers or scuba divers who want to help to protect the environment and reduce plastic and other waste, no matter where you are in the world, this article might give you some good ideas. On the Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea in Thailand are some very interesting projects going on which are applicable everywhere and you can read all about it in this article.

 

Skip the straw, save a sea turtle
Blue View Divers makes people more conscious and collects the plastic straws and sell reusable bamboo straws

Plastic and garbage can be a big problem on tropical islands

After arriving on the Phi Phi Islands, I was honestly a bit in shock to see a big bright shining yellow´M´. Yes, the Mc. Donalds is here and it’s the first thing you come across upon leaving the jetty. One of the things coming to my mind was the amount of rubbish they must produce. Plastic, and other garbage, is a big problem on the islands in the Andaman Sea, but especially on the smaller islands with a lot of tourists like Phi Phi and Ko Lipe for example.

 

The problem of plastic waste on small islands
Plastic rubbish can cause many problems on the small Thai Islands like Koh Phi Phi

 

Recycle projects & eco-friendly activities shine some light!

As with other things in life, it’s better not to focus on the negative things and as soon as I shifted my mind I caught the attention of many yellow (funny, in the same colour!) t-shirts of Trash Hero. Also, it didn’t take long before I found out about Blue View Divers and went diving with them. You can read about that experience in this article.

My enthusiasm for the sustainable eco-projects on Phi Phi

Blue View Divers are working with a sustainable and eco-friendly concept and are one of the ten Trash Hero Phi Phi Sponsors. Trash Hero supports local clean-ups and the eco-bricks project. I got so excited about all the eco-projects that I decided to write a full blog post about it. Caroline from Blue View Divers took the time to explain me everything about what’s happening in regards to the conservation and protection of the environment of the Phi Phi Islands.

Recycle our waste!
A table constructed by plastic recycled eco-bricks

Organisations on the Phi Phi Islands who serve by protecting the nature and conserving the oceans

Trash Hero is a global movement with community-based projects all over the world. Their mission is to remove existing waste and reduce future waste in a sustainable way. With their actions of picking up any trash, education and inspiration in communities they make a big difference.

Environmental conscious projects to reduce waste all around planet earth

If you have been travelling through Thailand you must have seen the stainless steel water bottles which can be bought and refilled for free at certain points, that´s Trash Hero. They have started a big amount of projects and communities all over the world and you can read more on their website: https://trashhero.org/ Whilst going scuba diving with Blue View, I found out that they sponsor a lot of the environmental and plastic reducing projects of Trash Hero.

The cooperation of different companies on Phi Phi to make tourism more sustainable

Also, it is nice to hear that Trash Hero makes it possible for more companies to work together in the mission to keep the island clean. They also all sell yellow t-shirts, the stainless steel water bottles and offer free drinking water refills. Some of the Trash Hero Phi Phi´s sponsors include:

  • Aquanauts Scuba
  • Princess Divers
  • Phi Phi Sea Frog Diving Centre
  • Profun Divers, Beachfront Divers
  • Phi Phi Barakuda Diving Center
  • Phi Phi Travel Service at Phi Phi Viewpoint
  • Phi Phi Climbers
  • Kitty Guesthouse.

 

Trash Hero Phi Phi Islands
Be a responsible traveller and conscious diver: pick an eco-friendly dive center and support their projects

 

Big recycle project at the dive shop of Blue View Divers

As soon as I walked in the dive centre to organise some scuba diving on the Phi Phi Islands, my eye caught the attention of a big recycling station outside the dive school. After chatting to the super friendly co-owner of the place, Caroline, I realised how many people are working on keeping Phi Phi clean.

Blue View Divers and how they take responsibility to keep the environment clean

I will give you a taste of all the projects Blue View Divers is involved with, however, there are many other organisations and people involved and some of these projects are not initiated by Blue View. I  just got the privilege that Caroline from this dive centre took the time and showed me her willingness to explain to me all about it. It’s also how I found out that a variety of organisations is working together on this goal and have assigned different tasks between them. Caroline told me that there are also many other dive centres on the island who help to clean up on a regular base and participate in eco-friendly concepts.

On Phi Phi is also a coral replanting project going on, in collaboration with Sea Shepherd

Another local group that is active in the local island clean up and conservation efforts is the Facebook group ´Farang Friends of Phi Phi´. started by  Phi Phi local, Elizabeth Kolbe. Also, another interesting project initiated on Phi Phi is the coral planting nursery in which they replant corals using super glue. Princess Divers, as well as the Adventure Club Dive Center, participate in this project which is in partnership with Ocean Quest from Sea Shepherd.

 

Recycle Station at Blue View Divers
The recycle station of Blue View Divers on the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand
waste is washed, split and reused
The garbage is split, washed and reused again in different ways

 

Phi Phi Conservation and Protection Team

Every 10th, 20th and 30th of each month an island cleaning is organised to keep Phi Phi clean. This is organised by the Conservation and Protection Team of the Phi Phi Islands. The Phi Phi tourist business association has a responsive member for each business type (i.e. dive centre, hostel, tattoo shop, restaurant) in order to help and be involved with the projects to keep Phi Phi clean and sustainable. Also, many local Thai people are very willing to help cleaning during these cleanups and you will see them collecting waste as well.

Phi Phi Island cleanups to conserve the oceans and nature

Because the island cleaning is already organised by the Phi Phi Conservation and Protection Team,  Trash Hero Phi Phi only supports the island cleaning and will send anyone who wants to help the organisations named above. If you like to participate in an island clean-up, just contact Trash Hero Phi Phi and they will provide you with all the right information.

Trash Hero and the eco-bricks project

On Phi Phi, however, Trash Hero is focussing on another great project: the eco-bricks! I already told you a bit about this in another article about scuba diving on Phi Phi but here I will explain to you what an eco-brick actually is and where it can be used for.

 

Basket full of eco bricks
Trash Hero & Blue View Divers work together to recycle plastic and create eco-bricks from it

Building a school with plastic eco-bricks!

An eco brick is a plastic bottle filled up with non-biodegradable waste to form a reusable building block. On the Phi Phi Islands, Trash Hero has initiated this project and there are more businesses on Phi Phi sponsoring them, with Blue View Divers being one of them. Eco bricks can be used for a huge variety of purposes but the most amazing one is their Bamboo School Project!

The school, constructed from eco-bricks, is built for orphans

The majority of the students in this school, in the remote village of Bong-Ti, are orphans and this project is giving them a place to sleep, eat and study. The bamboo school buildings are constructed from the eco-bricks. If you want to help this project, anyone can send eco-bricks directly to the following address:

 

Eco bricks can be sent to this address
If you like to get involved, you can send your eco-bricks to this address

 

An eco-brick stand-up paddleboard, hosted by the Whale Company

Another project that Trash Hero is hosting, is to build a stand-up paddleboard from eco-bricks. To create more awareness of the plastic pollution problem, they are going to paddle with it through the Thames in London, coming summer. This project is hosted by the Whale Company in collaboration with Trash Hero, other dive centres and the local community. Nataly, who works as an instructor for Blue View Divers, told me full enthusiasm about this project. She said that she´s helping a lot in all the projects whenever she has the time for it, besides teaching scuba diving.

 

Eco Brick for Bamboo School Family
Eco bricks from recycled plastic are used to build a school in Thailand

 

Making travellers and divers aware of the plastic problem

Other than helping Trash Hero by collecting waste and plastic bottles for the above projects and the non-profit selling of ´Trash Hero´ t-shirts and stainless steel water bottles which can be refilled for free, Blue View Divers does even more. After returning from scuba diving they collect all waste seen on the island and bring it to their recycling station. Straws are counted and written down on a board to make people aware of it and they sell reusable bamboo straws.

 

Today we collected 173 straws!
Plastic straws are collected, people are made more aware and reusable bamboo straws are sold here

 

Waste Recycling: from re-using flip flops to helping elephants!

Broken flip flops are sent to a Thai company which makes new ones out of them. Biodegradable waste goes into a composter and the compost is given to local Thai people, later on. Almost every kind of trash is used again or they make it usable, even cans are transformed into ashtrays and ring pull tabs are collected for a project to make prosthetic limbs. An elephant who lost her leg got a prosthetic limb because of this project by ´Roots & Shoots´!

 

an elephant got a prosthetic leg from recycled waste
Roots & Shoots project: an elephant got a prosthetic leg from recycled waste
Recycle flip flops
The project of recycling flip flops

What else Blue View Divers does to reduce plastic waste

At the dive centre of Blue View Divers, you can see tables and other stuff made from the eco-bricks and a bean bag filled with straws  (which is very comfortable to sit on by the way), to name a few examples. They also help to reduce waste by using recyclable lunch boxes and by providing them to their guests who are getting food to take away. They even stimulate the travellers to use one of the Trash Hero stainless steel bottles if going for a fruit shake, which unfortunately in most case is still served in plastic throw-away cups in Thailand.

 

Biodegradable waste is turned into compost
Compost is made from biodegradable garbage and given to the local population

Serving by protecting the environment and conserving the oceans

Blue View Divers diving centre has a list of eco-awards and projects they are involved in or working with on their website. I was surprised, however, that I didn’t see much more dive centres like this on the Phi Phi Islands. I think Blue View makes a huge difference upon the environment and could be a true example for other dive centres anywhere in the world.

Eco & Green Nominations for protecting the environment and conserving the oceans

Green Fins Thailand is coming every year to check if they still meet their values and required standards and the dive centre is also awarded by PADI with a Green Star Award, as the only one on Phi Phi Island. The dive centre is also a Shark Guardian Centre to raise awareness about the protection of sharks.

Do you want to volunteer and serve sustainable eco projects for the oceans and nature?

As I already expected and as the co-owner of the dive centre, Caroline, confirmed, all these projects take a lot of time. A dive centre is already a busy operation so sometimes it´s hard for them to keep up with all the projects, but the whole team is working very hard to help. They might get a volunteer to work for them to help just on these projects, stay up-to-date with them through their website or Facebook page!

Shark Research Project at this divingschool on Phi Phi Islands
Blue View Divers is involved with many ocean conservation projects, with shark guardian being one of them

The importance of stimulating local people to dive

But not only the environment and plastic waste are issues for sustainable companies. As a scuba diving instructor myself, with experience working in a variety of countries, I always wondered if there are no better ways to get local people more involved in scuba diving. In some places, it could help local people to get a better income and make them more conscious about ocean conservation. During my travels to Malapascua Island in the Philippines in 2012, I was shocked to hear local people doing dynamite fishing!

Sustainable tourism includes more than protecting nature & oceans

What differences in the world, these people are in surviving mode whilst we pay money or leave our better-paid jobs to come and see the fish they want to eat. These local people probably don´t know that if corals get destroyed there soon will not be much fish left. In my opinion, getting them involved in scuba diving would be thé solution to educate them, getting them to respect the oceans more and have a better salary so they don´t need to desperately blow up coral blocks as a way to find a dinner for the day.

Free scuba diving for the local population on Phi Phi

Blue View Divers is promoting local people to dive by offering free scuba diving to Thai locals. They have certified many local people to become divers even some of them up to working as dive professionals. Currently, they have a Thai instructor working for them and another one taking courses and doing his advanced course at the moment.

Why we shouldn't litter
The dive school makes people aware and conscious about the waste problems

Conscious baby steps in sustainability might lead to serve the environment in a bigger way

I hope by now you have an idea about solutions to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious approach as a dive centre or traveller. You don´t have to have a huge recycling station or all these awards to be involved to get started. I think the example of Blue View Divers in this article shows you a lot of examples of how you can already help by doing small things.

This sustainable & environmental-friendly concept can be applied anywhere in the world

But who knows you feel so good about serving the community and environment in this way that slowly you become a dive centre with a similar concept, wherever you are in the world. I´m aware that a dive centre is a busy business but there are always solutions like working together with organisations or getting a volunteer to help you. If we all take small steps, we could make a big difference for the oceans and our dear friends living in the oceans.

Demonstration to turn environmental issues into an ecological conscious challenge!

The plastic and garbage nowadays is a big problem, but we could start seeing it as a challenge instead of a problem. This is exactly what Blue View Divers, and the rest of the companies involved on Phi Phi, are demonstrating. Thank you Blue View Divers for bringing this eco-concept for a dive centre in the world and creating awareness. Also, thank you, Caroline, for your time and providing me with all the information.

 

How long it takes for each trash to break down
How many years before each waste is gone from the oceans and broked down again

 

Top 10 trash found in the oceans
Blue View Divers makes people aware of the importance of protecting and conserving our oceans

What´s next on Splashpacker?

Somehow I ended up in a variety of series and articles and I am working on translations for the Dutch Splashpacker website. I just have started with articles about how I became a diving instructor and my experience working in different countries. Also, it´s time for me to leave Thailand in less than a week now, I have excited new travel plans coming up. I´m going to visit my ex-colleagues on the island of Veligandu, Maldives, where I used to work in 2010!

Enthusiastic & curious to my new experience of staying on a local island on the Maldives

I´m so excited about it and very grateful to be able to visit and dive Madivaru Corner again. Also, on the neighbour island called Rasdhoo are hostels now, making it possible to dive these world-class dive spots on a lower budget and support the local people. You can read more here about my experience of travelling the Maldives by staying and diving on a local island. Soon I will provide you with all information about it! Just stay tuned!

Enjoy the reading, happy bubbles and safe travels!

5 thoughts on “Sustainable eco projects on the Koh Phi Phi Islands”

  1. Riona Surjoo says:

    Hi There,

    I visited Phi Phi islands recently and enjoyed a few parties at the bars on the shore of Loh Dalum beach. I was sad to see that all the bars were using plastic straws instead of more eco-friendly alternatives. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa and even though there is no beach for 600 kms, most of our bars and restaurants have opted to use paper straws.

    Unfortunately, many of the party goers just dispose of their straws (and other trash), whether intentionally or not, right on the beach, which go directly into the ocean if not picked up – I think we it would make a huge difference if the bars on Phi Phi island used more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws, especially since they are frequented 7 days a week.

    Do you perhaps know who we could contact to see what can be done?

    Regards
    Riona

    1. Dear Riona,

      First of all.. Sorry for my super late reply. I kind of stopped blogging but decided to pick it up again. Seeing comments like this really helps to get myself motivated again. So thank you very much 🙂 Yes it´s so true, I also felt so sad to see the use of plastic all the time everywhere on little islands like this. But fortunately, there are always people out there striving for better. Like you and the organisation I wrote about. I am pretty sure that everything what can be done is known to the people from Trash Hero and the Blue View Divers dive centre. Maybe you could contact them if you would like to do something. It´s also very hard to change policies in places like this, which are very often controlled by people or companies with power. But in my opinion, if enough, even small, businesses work together there can also be a change. I would contact them to ask first. Trash Hero has the plastic free straws available, and also doing a lot of work in making people aware. Cheers to South Africa, still on my list 🙂

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