Trash Hero

Earlier this week I volunteered with Trash Hero, a charity that organises beach clean ups in a bid to save the world’s stunning coastline and mainland of litter. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while as I love to give back and have often volunteered my time for different causes.

Meeting at a variety of beaches on Koh Lanta every Sunday at 1600, the Trash Hero volunteers spend two hours collecting rubbish that has either been washed up by the sea or left by beach goers.

My beach clean up

I met up with Trash Hero Koh Lanta, at Secret Beach at 1600, ready for two hours of litter picking. Here I was introduced to the organisers and given two bags (one for plastics and cans) and one for other waste, along with gloves to protect my hands. I’m so glad I opted to wear the gloves, considering the amount of glass I picked up.

I walked to the end of Secret Beach, passing through the small woodland and found a lot of polystyrene foam which had become embedded in the ground. It took a real effort to dig out the foam and was quite frustrating as it broke down into little polystyrene balls! I moved onto some grass and weeds at the top of the beach where I and a few others found the remnants of a campfire party. Masses of glass spirit bottles and energy drinks were piled next to old fires, as well as scores of lighters and stray flip-flops.

All-in-all, between 15 ‘heroes’, we collected a total of 90kg of rubbish on and around Secret Beach.

Thai style waste management

Fortunately, what I soon realised is that I am not guilty of using any of the products that littered the beach that day and more people need to take care and responsibility when visiting the beach. It’s not enough to just dump disregarded drinks containers etc.  I’m not trying to say that I’m the most Eco-friendly person (although I do have a bamboo straw!) but I do make an effort to try to say no to single use plastics and refuse plastic bags when shopping.

From living in Thailand, I’ve realised that the waste management culture is a lot different to the UK and elsewhere. Although the rubbish lorry comes once a week to collect waste, there is no option to recycle and so everything gets dumped together. There is a little sweet lady in our community who, at her own risk, takes out the plastic and glass bottles from our bins each day and must trade them in for a small amount.

About Trash Hero

The Trash Hero mission is to create sustainable, community-based projects that remove existing waste, and reduce future waste by inspiring long-term behaviour change.

They do this through:

  • Action and Awareness
  • Education
  • Sustainable Projects
  • Inspiration

Trash Hero works in a number of ways to create a cleaner world:

Weekly Cleanups

As of July 2017, over 47’000 volunteers have removed 345 metric tons of rubbish in nine countries worldwide. Trash Hero plan to engagement with an estimated 115,000 new Trash Heroes through events in 50 locations around the world, in the next three years.

Bottles & Bags Program

The Trash Hero Bottles & Bags program aims to substantially reduce the amount of plastic bottles and bags that end up on the beaches, in the sea, and in communities by providing reusable replacements which not only benefit the environment, but also consumers and businesses.

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Trash Hero sells stainless steel water bottles to local businesses at no profit to Trash Hero. Over 33,000 bottles have been sold in Thailand so far. Trash Hero World also produces reusable and packable shopping bags, which they make available to businesses.

Community Waste Management

This initiative provides rubbish receptacles and volunteer-driven waste pick-ups in rural and small communities that currently do not have publicly provided waste management services, and discourage the burning and burying of rubbish.

Local School Education

Trash Hero develop projects in local schools to increase awareness about environmental problems, and specifically about responsible waste practices. projects include; cleanups, creation of written classroom materials, multimedia presentations and personal videos with the World Story Exchange, including videos about how garbage affects communities.

Trash Hero @Work

Trash Hero World’s @Work program creates a solid basis for reducing corporate and business waste to a minimum. Office waste is analysed in detail each day and steps are then taken to reduce waste to a minimum.

Save the environment

If you’re visitng Koh Lanta or want some ideas for cleaning up where you live, take a look at Lanta Eco News. They are doing their bit to share the latest news about eco-friendly and sustainable travel initiatives.

In the meantime, we can all avoid plastic straws, cups, bags and packaging and opt for re-useables. It’s much better to use a product more than once or use it for something else, rather than use it once and throw away.

We all have it in us to be a Trash Hero!

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