The environment is precious, and even more so when you are taking a yachting trip around the beautiful island of Phuket.
So here at Simpson Yacht Charters we thought we would take a little look at how the people of Phuket are trying to protect their environment, and how you too can help them in their strives. We love Phuket and do our utmost to protect whilst enjoying the environment.
The waste problem
Recently there has been a huge new initiative to clean up Phuket. Environmental officials are on a mission to see the less well kept areas of the island become trash free as the Provincial Trash and Wastewater Committee handed down the directive to get the job done, at the end of January.
The order will mean that garbage collection will get a much-needed reboot, and efforts redoubled to ensure that the streets remain clean for all to enjoy. The island’s incinerator will be upgraded to be able to cope with the extra demand on the infrastructure. Wastewater treatment plants will also be updated and improved as part of the overhaul. The moves have been greatly welcomed by locals and visitors alike, and it is hoped that this initiative will see a much cleaner, greener, and more environmentally conscious Phuket come to life.
The water problem
Now water is very important to us here at Simpson – after all a yacht would be pretty useless without it! Greenpeace have long been outspoken about the water challenges that face the earth. Freshwater resources are dwindling, and this is accelerated by further coal power plants being built.
Thailand has been in the grips of a bad drought for some time now, with water levels in the country’s dams at lower than 10 per cent capacity. The Thailand Electricity Generating Authority still however is steaming ahead with plans for more coal plants despite it being the most water intensive form of power. Greenpeace and climate activists urge governments to reconsider and switch to renewable forms of energy to address the water problem.
The air problem
As well as the environmental challenges facing Phuket on the ground, there is also a big challenge in the air too.
Air pollution is one of the world’s most pressing climate change concerns, and since we are all part of one connected ecosystem – the profound challenges in places like Indonesia and India affect Phuket too.
It is not only our own species that is affected by the chemical changes in the make-up of the air, but also the flora and fauna around us on which we very much depend.
But what exactly is air pollution? And what can we do to help mitigate its effects? These are questions officials in Phuket have been pondering.
Air pollution can be divided into two categories – simply that which is visible, and that which is invisible. Both can be equally damaging and upset the delicate balance of the ecosystem and the atmosphere.
Both local and global affects can be witnessed from either type of air pollution, but there are also sometimes patterns to be observed.
Air pollution of course is what leads to the degradation of the ozone layer which is a major contributory factor to global warming.
Air pollution can happen in two main ways; firstly, pollutants being released directly into the air; secondly pollutants mixing to cause something we know as smog. These are known as primary pollutants and secondary pollutants respectively. Fossil fuels, the animal agriculture industry, and vehicle emissions are all causes of air pollution. Then there is manufacturing, deforestation, mining, and domestic such as household cleaning products and paints. Air pollution causes health problems, as well as contributing to climate change and damaging ecosystems. [/su_column]
So, what can be done about it? Air pollution very much needs to be tackled at a global level, however every little helps and there is much to be done at a local level too. Worldwide strides such as the Paris Agreement of December 2015 have helped unite all nations in the common cause of protecting our environment. That agreement, is reliant on nations each doing their bit, and the populations of those nations taking individual steps to reduce their footprint. It is the responsibility of everyone on the planet to be aware of the crisis, and to take action now. And this is something the government of Phuket are taking seriously.
Innovative local solutions
Community beach clean ups are becoming quite the craze in Phuket. Eco-conscious local people, and visitors alike have been collecting any debris which doesn’t belong there. Items like toothpicks, bottle tops, plastic bags, and other items of garbage are collected from the beaches where they could be destined to be swept out to sea to be ingested by the very sea creatures we then eat. Beach clean ups are a great way to have an immediate impact on your local environment. Better still, get into the habit of picking up any bit of litter no matter how small when you are strolling along the sands. It is actually the smallest pieces that can be the most harmful.
There is one man in Phuket who took this to the next level. Kirk Gillock is an American expat who has launched a nationwide campaign entitled ‘Think Before You Throw’ which started in Nong Khai. Gillock’s creative solution to the plastic waste problem was to build a working catamaran out of discarded wood and plastic bottles. He is trying to tackle the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mindset. When people throw things in the river, or on the beach, to them it is gone but actually it just moves the problem from one place to another – the other being somewhere it can cause much more damage and is less likely to be dealt with appropriately.
Gillock was saddened by the disrespect for nature and decided to create something beautiful and functional out of it – a true inspiration to the local people and other visitors of Phuket. The four month project made use of over 6,000 plastic bottles – 2,000 of which laid below the waterline allowing the vessel to float. This initial project was gifted to the mayor where it was displayed for years until the time came for it to be dismantled and recycled. Gillock now continues his mission, in a new location along the Gulf where his next project is shaping up to be an even more impressive vessel made of recycled waste to the tune of 15,000 bottles donated by the local community. This version is a collaborative project with engineers, students and the local community, and this one will even have solar panels! It is projected to be completed by the end of May. He plans to do even more in the future.
What we can do as individuals
Travelling is a fantastic past time, it opens one’s eyes to the world beyond our own bubbles and increases awareness of the bigger picture. But with the great privilege of world travel, comes an even bigger responsibility to ensure that all those aeroplane miles are counteracted by the individual choices we make every day. After all, the stunning biodiversity and intricately beautiful nature of our planet is what makes it such a joy to travel anyway, and therefore we as travellers all have an obligation to do everything within our power to ensure that this is protected for future generations to come to enjoy.
So here are some things you can do:
Phuket is a beautiful place, and we can all help to keep it that way. There is no waving of a magic wand, there are no simple overnight solutions to the wider problems. But if we all did our little bit to help, the situation would turn around. Here at Simpson we like to try and do our bit for the planet, and very much wish to protect beautiful ecosystems our clients can enjoy. Nature is a remarkable, wonderful thing, and we must respect it and nourish it, not destroy it. We are excited by some of the innovative steps being taken in Phuket, but there is always more to be done.