About a week ago, Christine and I were inspired. We were sitting on the beach sipping beers, watching the sun set, when we noticed two women walking across the sand carrying bags. These two tourists were enjoying their sunset time too, but at the same time cleaning up plastic bottles, chip wrappers and other pieces of trash carelessly left by sun-worshippers throughout the day. What a simple idea. Visitors taking a small action to INDEPENDENTLY maintain the beauty of the destination. We love it. Not everything has to be an organized campaign! If you see a problem, why can’t you help to solve it? Grab a bag or two, take 10 minutes, leave the beach better than you found it.We had been searching for a way to volunteer while we stayed in Ao Nang and hadn’t had the best luck. There are a lot of “pay to volunteer” opportunities here but sadly the true volunteer-just-for-the-sake-of-giving-back is getting harder and harder to find. Yet, here were two travelers doing the right thing, all on their own, and having fun with it. We were inspired to take action the very next morning!
We get up most mornings and either run on Napporat Beach or walk and drink coffee on it, enjoying the sunrise. We wondered, why not just incorporate keeping the beach clean into our morning walks? It takes little added effort, we just have to remember to bring bags with us. Some mornings we fill half a dozen bags, others we only get one or two. There is a LOT of trash left when we leave, but it is better than when we started.Interesting Fact: Do you know what one of the most common pieces of trash is that we find on the beach? The little plastic ring around the cap of your disposable plastic water bottle! We collected them on our reef clean up at Karon Beach, cleaning the beach on Koh Tao, and now on our morning beach clean up in Ao Nang. We have found THOUSANDS of these everywhere, being carried in the wind to the ocean where they look like tiny jellyfish, affecting marine life and birds, while leaching powerful toxins into the water. Awesome. Please hold on tight to these little offenders if you have to buy bottled water, we were shocked by their starring role in our efforts.
It feels great to volunteer with an established project. It is even better when you get to see the result of your work and see the people it affects at the end of the day. In the grand scheme of things, however, that isn’t all giving back is about. Leaving one dirty beach a little better off than when we found it has cumulative value and can be an excellent reminder to others of our own individual power for change. We want to say thank you to the two awesome beach cleaning girls, whoever and wherever you are, for inspiring us to do our part in keeping the world a little cleaner. And sorry for taking your picture, we really were excited, but probably should’ve asked.