Hua Hin Residents share observations and suggestions on keeping Hua Hin town clean.
Nothing describes Hua Hin more aptly than the Klai Kangwon Summer Palace; ‘Klai Kangwon’ means “far from worries”. Hua Hin is a preferred place of escape for both Thai people and tourists with warm people and peaceful seaside atmosphere. The pristine town is still enjoying rapid development, popularity and raised living standards. On the flipside, Hua Hin is also experiencing the drawbacks that come with increasing population and development; the most obvious being Every Thursday, come rain or shine, you will see a group of people walking along the Khao Takiab beach picking up discarded bottles, cigarette butts and plastic bags. These are uncelebrated heroes in Hua Hin who call their happy group the Trash Hero and rightly so too! This small community of environmentally conscious people gather voluntarily every Thursday without fail at 3pm to clean up the Khao Takiab Beach.
“It was first started by a Swiss gentleman in Koh Lipe in the south of Thailand. He started Trash Hero Thailand about 2 years ago and wanted to do it here in Hua Hin too.” Says Pennapa Kradtarn, the founder of the group who works at the Riad Hua Hin Hotel. Pennapa believes that we should give back as much as we take from nature. She expressed the need for individuals to take initiative and clean up after themselves to keep the beaches clean. The Trash Hero’s objectives are to clean up the beaches and public areas as well as to reduce waste , especially plastic increased waste generation and pollution.
According to official Hua Hin Municipality records, the town generates close to 90 tonnes of solid waste every day out of which half is food waste, plastic and paper material which is easily recyclable or compostable. Waste management is a pressing issue that the Municipality has given priority to in order promote environmental and public health, as well as to boost tourism. The town has seen efforts from not only the authorities but also from individual local residents and tourists who initiate cleaning events around the town and beaches. There are also people who collect recyclable materials like cardboards, plastic and glass bottles as well as empty beer and soda cans. Many of these people make a living out of collecting these recyclable materials and selling them to bigger collecting groups who clean them and then sell them to recycling plants in the country.
It is an efficient and rewarding system where everyone profits from the business and a significant amount of the waste is recycled. David, a restaurant owner, collects recyclable waste from his restaurant and sells it to collectors who pay him THB 300 a month. He admits that it isn’t much but he likes the idea of a ‘no-waste system’ and contributing in whatever small way he can. He encourages people to leave out bottles separately for collectors to spare them the unpleasant task of rummaging through the bins. The success of a waste management strategy does not depend only on the efforts of the municipality but the combined efforts of the authorities, tourists and most especially the local community. “People who are living in this area need to believe in participating in such endeavors because it benefits them and not just the tourists.
The ordinary person may not own a business and the worker in the street is not concerned with tourists and tourism. An awareness campaign must target all audiences and not just one or else the benefits and success will be limited”; says Rachael, a foreign resident in Hua Hin and an IR professor. “Education is key!” says an enthusiastic resident. She thinks that while awareness for adults is important, it is more important to teach young local children to value the environment and understand the importance of waste management. That way it inspires a whole new generation of environmentally conscious citizens. To Wenmei Zhang, a teacher and foreign resident in Hua Hin, it all comes down to individual responsibility. “There is only so much the Municipality can do. We must take personal responsibility and make sure we do not produce so much waste. “ Su Lay May, also a long time resident in Hua Hin, agrees and believes that individual responsibility and contribution matters.
For her, doing small things like printing on both sides of a paper, leaving bottles separately for collectors, donating old clothes, toys etc. and picking up trash from the streets and putting it in bins goes a long way. She believes strongly in carrying cloth bags instead of accepting plastic bags from supermarkets and grocery stores and thinks small rewards like coupons or discounts should be given to those carrying their own shopping bags to encourage the same behavior in others. “People should plan what they will need to dispose of before they buy things. I try to buy my groceries in bulk so that I reduce my home waste.” She added. A local Thai resident observes that while there are many Municipal bins around town, it is not enough because he sees trash overflowing from the bins and soi dogs rummaging through trash bags outside the bins and scattering rubbish over the sidewalks.
He believes that providing more trash bins and placing them strategically around town would be very helpful. He added that restaurants, grocery stores, street food vendors and similar businesses should take responsibility for disposal of their waste and ensure cleanliness in their area by providing bins and undertaking regular cleaning. There are many ways in which we can contribute towards keeping the beautiful town of Hua Hin clean: joining a cleaning event, practicing good waste management in our homes, donating old stuff, raising awareness; the list is endless. The main idea is to do something; even if it is as simple as carrying your own water bottle instead of purchasing a new bottle of water every time. It is essential for everyone to join in and help preserve Hua Hin as the precious home and beautiful escape that it is.