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Phanganist meets with Petra, supporter of Trash Hero who visited the office to talk about Trash Hero and her obvious love of Koh Phangan...
Hi Petra so what is your koh phangan story?
Ten years ago I made friends in Vietnam with a couple who at that time lived on Koh Phangan. So when I finished my job in Vietnam I decided to pay them a visit before heading back to Germany.
I ended up staying in quiet and enchanting Mae Haad for some weeks, enjoying my hammock and the beautiful sunset view. Doing my Open Water Diver, I got introduced to the amazing underwater world and the breathtaking beauty of Sail Rock. Looking back, this time changed my view of life… and somehow, when I was on the ferry and started seeing Koh Phangan getting smaller and smaller in the distance I knew that I would be back.
And, sure enough, I did come back! Several times during the last few years - sometimes just a couple of weeks, sometimes longer. I enjoy and appreciate the great variety of activities possible on Koh Phangan now, I’ve got involved in doing some Yoga, of course
I still love the diving and also the laid back and chilled out vibe of Koh Phangan.
As the love for the island and the people living here has been growing more and more during this last decade, my plan is to spend my time between Germany and Koh Phangan in the future.
How has the island changed since your first visit?
A lot of changes have taken place when one looks at the infrastructure: when I arrived ten years ago, there was no highway between Thong Sala and Chaloklum to just point out one major change. But once you stay a bit longer, I find, that the island’s feeling and the village of Chaloklum for example have not changed much. And still there are these untouched beautiful lush green hills and viewpoints to enjoy. This is still an amazing place for me.
What is the idea behind Trash Hero?
Trash Hero was born in 2013 and is now a registered non-profit organization. It started by a group of local and foreign friends hanging out together on Koh Lipe (Andaman Sea). As they all loved with the island and its beaches, they wanted to support the island in keeping its beauty. The first beach cleanup with friends was born … more local people and tourists joined for weekly cleanups and more ideas came up on how to reduce the use of plastic with simple actions. Now, the Trash Hero movement and ideas have spread from Koh Lipe to many other places in Thailand, such as Koh Lanta, Ao Nang or Chiang Mai (14 chapters total) and also to other countries.
The main mission of Trash Hero is to raise awareness (and thus make it easier for all of us to change our own behaviour) by actions which help to remove existing and reduce future waste. One of these actions is to spread the use of refillable stainless steel bottles, so that people will not buy single-use plastic bottles. This is happening now on Koh Phangan. Here it is myself, supported by Chaloklum Diving being the first business to take part in the bottles’ programme, and Core Sea who have gotten together to make Trash Hero grow larger on the island. They have introduced the first bottles in March and by now, interest is growing slowly but is starting to gather momentum on Koh Phangan.
These bottles are inexpensive, very practical, a great souvenir and good for the island’s environment as they help to reduce the use of plastic bottles. All the businesses in all of Thailand which take part in this, agree and respect that there is a fixed selling price (but also a fixed buying price to secure there is no loss for them) and that they provide the water for free to people who buy or already have a Trash Hero bottle. The plus for the businesses lies in the publication of their place on the Trash Hero website, on the facebook page, in visitors appreciating the environmental aware approach more and more and in keeping their islands clean and beautiful.
Businesses so far which are involved in this project are Chaloklum Diving, CORE sea, France Plongée, Karma Kafe, Samma Karuna , Veranda and The Sanctuary. In these places, bottles and free water refills for Trash Hero bottle users are available. There is major interest from other businesses in the North and West of the island, who want to help keep the Koh Phangan cleaner with less waste and some great cooperation have started with Green Cross so we are hoping that with this support, Haad Rin will be part as well soon.
Also, we want to get started with more beach cleanups, bringing people together, have some fun and chill together afterwards. Currently Trash Hero Koh Phangan takes part and supports the monthly cleanup of Chaloklum bay, initiated by CORE sea, which takes place every last Friday of the month at 4pm (meeting in Chaloklum). Mr. Kit’s Paradise Beach Bar is sponsoring our picking-up beach stroll with free drinking water.
Trash Hero will keep you updated on what is happening…
If you want to be involved with Trash Hero helping the island then please visit their website which is www.trashhero.org/chapters/koh-phangan/ or contact them directly on their facebook page ‘Trash Hero Koh Phangan’.
Petra leave us your life philosophy...
Be authentic, thankful and value your true friends.