NOOK,HER MISSION & TRASH IN KOH LANTA?
Nook, 32, originally from Trang and a passionate environmentalist, has lived on Koh Lanta for over 10 years. Koh Lanta is an island in Krabi Province, spanning 339.8 km² just south of the Andaman coast. The island produces an estimated 100kg per day of trash and an additional 100kg per day is washed up from the ocean during monsoon season. Nook is on a mission to reduce the trash, with a strong focus on plastic, accumulated in Koh Lanta’s landfill and has built a workshop to upcycle wastes, by turning plastic into products that can be sold to raise funds and goes back into the project. The goal is to create a ‘Circular Economy’ that becomes a sustainable long-term solution for Koh Lanta and its community.
WHY CIRCULAR ECONOMY IS IMPORTANT?
Thailand is among the world’s worst, being ranked sixth worst, offender for dumping plastics into the sea and, to some degree, there are initiatives in place to address the plastic problem in Thailand, but it will require strong leadership and regulations to show real improvements and it is a long road before it will be widely enforced throughout the country.
It is difficult for people to change the way they handle trash if there are no regulations enforced, for instance, burning plastic is still legal and somewhat, encouraged! The country needs a top-down and bottom-up approach and if everyone contributes to a circular economy by improving how they dispose of their trash correctly and change their buying habits (say NO to single-use plastic!), critical mass will help drive real significant changes for the environment. This is the very reason why Nook created this initiative because it starts with one person to make a real difference!
HOW WILL NOOK’S CIRCULAR ECONOMY INITIATIVE HELP?
Here’s how Nook’s initiative will start a circular economy in Koh Lanta and some of the major benefits:
- Nook has established an education centre at ‘Nook’s Factory’ to allow residents and visitors to learn about the trash and its effects on our environment. People will learn how properly clean, separate and dispose of their trash. Fun workshops are held regularly to teach both adults and children how to turn plastic and paper into creative products, such as:
- plastic into cement bricks
- pots for plants
- packaging foam made from plants
- notebooks from recycled paper (including 7/11 teller receipts)
Nook continues to find upcycle solutions for every possible types of trash.
Additionally, Nook often takes visits to rural villages to educate residents to stop the burning their trash and plastic that emits toxic pollutants into the air causing serious and prolonged health risks. This has also been a huge contributor to Thailand’s air pollution.
Although Nook struggles to get a response from the local council, thankfully there are many people willing to support this project. Nook continues to raise awareness and will travel by car, hours on end, throughout Thailand to connect with like-minded people to educate, raise awareness and expand her knowledge for ongoing improvements.
Learn more about Nook's Factory:
FIGHT POVERTY WITH JOBS
Many residents who are living below the poverty line in Koh Lanta are struggling to provide for themselves and families since most lost their jobs when the pandemic put the global economy in crisis. This also includes migrant workers from Myanmar who are now afraid to return to their families and country since the military take over.
Many charities offer to help donate food, which can be effective short term, however, Nook’s initiative give these people a new skillset, a job, a salary and most importantly, build hope to inspire positive change and facilitate personal growth and development for their community.
SUNDAY PICK UP & DROP OFF
Nook regularly advertises in local Facebook groups offering weekly plastic pick-up or offer the option to people to drop off their plastic, funded by herself. She also provides instructions on how to properly prepare the trash by cleaning and separating before disposal.
There are recycling stations on the island that pay for plastic, many locals will rummage through trash and the landfill hours throughout the day in year-round hot and humid weather conditions as a means to earn a living but this could be detrimental to their health from inhaling toxic fumes and they’re often discriminated as being a ‘lower class humans’.
Nook identified the problem and offered to pick up the plastic from homes before it’s disposed and either donate the plastic to the locals to claim for cash or if they wish, a job at the workshop, eliminating their time having to go through trash all day.
SAVE OCEAN LIFE
Plastic can have major impacts on both human and animal health, they release carcinogens and while breaking down in the oceans become microplastics which enter the food chain (i.e. fish). It was reported in 2020 by the Marine and Coastal Resources Department, that plastic kills over 300 sea animals on average per year, 60% which are made up of whales and dolphins. Recently, it as also discovered a patch of plastic trash almost 10km long was spotted floating off the coast of Chumpon province.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
With the help of social media and documentaries, such as Seaspiracy and Plastic Ocean (just to name a few), the plastic problem awareness is spreading globally. The circular economy of zero waste is the ideal goal to be made available in every community, street, and country. By embracing this method and new way of living, you can help reduce your contribution of plastic. Here’s how:
- Make an instant change to improve how you dispose of your trash by cleaning it, separating it and find stations that will accept all of types of trash for reuse and recycling and reduce the amount of ‘general’ waste.
- Stop using single-use plastic! Bring an eco-bag when buying groceries, bring your own cups, straws and containers when taking food/drinks away. When making purchases online, request for non-plastic packaging materials and where possible, seek refilling stations to top up on liquids e.g. shampoo, detergent etc.
- If you’re a resident of Koh Lanta, contact Nook to arrange drop-off or pick-up of your trash.
- Participate if Trash Hero Sundays or even if you see trash on the beach, pick up and dispose of it properly.
By making simple changes in your household, we will be able to tackle the problem right from the start, and our action will encourage a new way of living.
HELP BUY A SHREDDER FOR UPCYCLING PLASTIC & SAVE KOH LANTA
The process of turning trash, particularly plastic and paper, into products includes cleaning, separating, and shredding before it’s either melted or cooked and put into molds to shape the product.
Nook and her team collect plastic regularly and right now, they use scissors to cut up plastic that is then used as materials to make products. With a proper shredder this will increase the shredding production and save time to make more in a shorter amount of time. This will also allow Nook to grow and store more plastic in the form of scraps.
The total of 106,300baht covers the price of the machine and shipping to Koh Lanta.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE GOAL FOR NOOK'S PROJECT?
The team at Komodoty are collaborating with Nook who is establishing a 'Circular Economy' system in Koh Lanta to turn plastic into products. Komodoty aim to learn and understand the processes involved and hopefully, aim to bring Nook's initiative back to other communities across other countries, starting with Bali, Indonesia.
Komodoty through its sales will also contribute a portion of their profits to raise funds for a plastic shredder for Nook's project and will also reward donators with free gifts.
We would like to send you a gift for your generosity, kindly select the reward of your choice when making your donation. You could be eligible for a Nook book made by hand at Nook's eco factory workshop with recycled paper or Komodoty's 'Wood' essential oil (100% organic plant extracts, made in Thailand and cruelty-free) or free accommodation at The Atelia in Bali, Canggu (can be claimed once borders are open, subject to availability).