Trash Hero is a global movement, a continental commitment, and a neighbourhood’s pride. Volunteers and people who care come together on a community level and gather regularly to clean. These spik-and-span folk are from all over the world and have one thing in common: contempt for trash. Every day the media is swamped with images of rivers of plastic, marine life and animals dying from discarded items and over-flowing landfill sites. What are we doing about it? Ideally, there would be clear directives from governments about plastic, littering and recycling. But instead, it is the voice of our teenagers that are reverberating around our struggling planet
Trash Hero was the brainchild of Roman Peter back in 2013 and was started here in Thailand. Very quickly new chapters of trash-hungry volunteers began to spring up in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, Czech Republic, the United States, Romania, Serbia, Zimbabwe, and Switzerland. There are now well over 100 chapters across the world and almost 200,000 volunteers. By the end of 2018, volunteers collectively removed 886,685kg of garbage from beaches and cities.
Single-use plastic bottles are one of the primary banes of concern for pollution. Trash Hero introduced the bottle refill programme in December 2014 with the intention of sustainably and substantially reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in the environment. 72,500 high-quality stainless steel water bottles have been purchased in Thailand and Indonesia alone; this has saved a staggering 26,462,500 plastic bottles. Suppliers of these bottles also offer complimentary refills of drinking water; this is a precise and long term solution to reduce plastic consumption. Heroes can travel from Chaing Mai, across the mainland to the south and then onto the islands without having to use one single plastic bottle.
Brent Jones is an integral part of the Koh Samui chapter of Trash Hero and has a whole host of litter-debuggers that support his enthusiasm and various projects across the island. Jones is a keen member of the Samui Mala Project, a community outreach umbrella for Trash Hero, Samui Bins, Pariah Dog and Cat, Samui Elephant Haven and Samui Elephant Sanctuary. Each of the projects supports the environment in many ways from the creation of artistic bins that gloriously line Samui’s beaches, the protection of lost, abandoned, abused, injured and disabled animals and the rescue of elephants from the tourism-trekking trade.
His passion is palpable when he talks about plastic in particular “The whole world needs to stop buying plastic and its derivatives. As consumers, we relentlessly buy over-packaged products; much of the time we are not offered the option to choose whether we even want packaged products or not. We need to share our frustrations with the suppliers and our governments to bring a swift end to this. Suppliers have put the onus on the end user to recycle their product; this is not right – they produce these toxic products and recycling does not work. Have you ever followed the journey of a single-use plastic bottle to a recycling unit? It gets transported around the world and ends up in landfill in another country: if it gets there – this adds to the already gigantic destructive ecological footprint. Trash Hero is offering local communities a stage so that people can be encouraged and educated to make a difference; this is not ageist: it helps people both young and old and everyone in between to be well-informed and how change can be easily adapted in their everyday lives”.