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Phuket Opinion: Think before you clean

PHUKET: To date this year The Phuket News has reported on dozens of “clean up” days organised variously by the provincial government, national government departments, local universities, hotels and resorts, community groups, expat groups... oh and that man I saw pick up an ice-cream wrapper of the street the other day.

The Phuket News

Sunday 14 May 2017, 09:00AM

Gov Norraphat sets an example for Phuket by putting on a pair of gloves and picking up litter himself during a recent government led ‘clean up’ day. Photo: PR Dept
Gov Norraphat sets an example for Phuket by putting on a pair of gloves and picking up litter himself during a recent government led ‘clean up’ day. Photo: PR Dept

Suffice it to say that cleaning up Phuket, at least superficially, seems to be a cause everyone can get behind – there are few opportunities for corruption, the results are quantifiable and it’s a great photo opportunity for everyone involved.

The only drawback is that these “clean up” days are necessarily undertaken after the fact. The much harder task is tackling the island’s waste problems with proactive infrastructure and policy measures that address the underlying issues.

While we rightly congratulate the people involved in these “clean up” day efforts, what we really need to do is reduce the amount of rubbish that gets discarded in the first place.

More public rubbish bins would be a good start, in all towns and at all beaches, with frequent rounds to empty and maintain them. Naturally, this measure would be underwritten by a large and sustained public education program.

A one-baht levy on plastic bags would be nice, and even if we can’t expect every little stall or shop to abide, wouldn’t it be good green PR for retail giants like 7-Eleven, Tesco, Super Cheap to lead the way on this particular issue?

Next on the list might be investing in recycling facilities to increase the range of materials that can be reused to generate a profit.

British International School, Phuket

If even a small percentage of material currently going to landfill or incineration was recycled it would be a good start. And by placing a value on previously worthless waste products, people would soon swoop in to collect and sell it.

A 30-year, island-wide plan for wastewater treatment infrastructure could be a worthwhile idea too. Given the growth rate of Phuket, perhaps we could plan and build the infrastructure now, knowing that we will soon grow into it, rather than the other way around.

Governor Norraphat Plodthong is confident and keen to assert his green credentials and it would be great to see him champion any one of the measures mentioned above.

Surely it would be easier to rally support from the higher-ups for a cleaner Phuket, than, say... closing down late-night trading on Bangla Rd.

It’s certainly worth a try.



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Island Man | 15 May 2017 - 10:28:11

Back in the ’60 in America litter and dumping were rampant. The government introduced the “Crying Indian”, (Search “The Crying Indian” on YouTube) TV commercial in an attempt to educate the public and reduce the amount of rubbish along the motorways. It worked! Soon the roadways and public areas were rubbish free and everybody became conscious about throwing and dumping rubbish and recycling. Mission accomplished, the ad was removed from the TV and lo, the rubbish began to slowly return. Realizing that humans needed a constant reminder, the government reintroduced the advertisement along with similar ads and the situation returned to post-ad conditions. 
It seems the Thai government could adapt the American advertisement into something that touches the Thai conscience and let the power of the people take control.
BTW, the American Indian in the commercial was Iron Eyes Cody. A Sicilian-American born in Louisiana Espera Oscar de Corti April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999). 

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Kurt | 14 May 2017 - 16:57:30

On Phuket it is: "talk first before you do". That is the big problem here.
And than the doings are not happening, see Surin Beach.

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Christy Sweet | 14 May 2017 - 15:09:46

For decades now  I have generated- per week, only small plastic grocery bag of "garbage" mostly chicken bones and bathroom waste, which is collected by the municipality for disposal. I also fill one, sometimes two 30 kilo sized bags with all manner of paper, cardboard, plastic bags including all product wrapping, hard plastics, glass and  aluminum which I drop off at a recycling center and I'm sick and tired of apparently being the only person who cares enough to do this.  Not one of my neighbors recycles anything except for the plastic refuse that drifts onto my property during every rain that I am constantly picking up. WAKE UP, PIGS and stop crapping all over our shared planet.

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Discover Thainess | 14 May 2017 - 11:45:26

Couldn't agree more, another excellent article by Phuket News

Come on phuket, let's have some sustainable planning please. This is about OUR future as a community and how we will continue to grow revenues from sustainable tourism.

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Sam hayman | 14 May 2017 - 10:32:39

They haven't cleaned the steps at Surin beach for 3 years.

Its so over grown now that you can't walk down there anymore.

This is very typical of the Or Bor Tor who you can't speak out against because the  Phuket News won't publish your comments.

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