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I was on a yin yoga teacher training recently at The Yogarden, when I spotted some bamboo straws for sale! I bought some for my family and for Villa Red Samui, the villa we rent out. This set me thinking about how the island has progressed recently in terms of initiatives that support the environment. On a small island, such as Koh Samui, every little initiative really does have an impact and by supporting the growing number of initiatives here, we have the opportunity to educate our children and show them how they really can make a difference.

Here is the list I came up with as I pondered the eco projects on Samui - additions welcome to this list!:

1. Elephant Sanctuary

The first elephant sanctuary in Southern Thailand opened here in Koh Samui in January 2018. Set on 10 acres of forest land, it offers a retirement home for elephants who have worked exhausting hours in the logging and tourism industries. ​

Visitors can spend 3 hours with the elephants, feeding, walking with, and observing these gentle giants as they roam, socialise, bathe and enjoy the peaceful life that they deserve.

Tel: (+66) 095 269 8343

2. Samui Green Market

The Samui Green Market is a regular monthly event that has quickly become a known as a hub for the sale and purchase, sampling and exchange of healthy foods, eco initiatives and hand made goods. Small local businesses come to showcase their products and families come to play, mingle and sample unique goods and services. People are inspired by the feeling of community and the afternoon is sprinkled with music and laughter.

For more inför and the date of the next green market, see their website!

3. Yoga Gives Back Thailand

"For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life!" says local ambassador, Anouk Prop and here on Koh Samui, free yoga classes are offered around the island to local Thai's, residents and anyone who cannot afford to attend paid classes.

All classes are by donation (the smallest amount is welcome) and a weekly schedule is published by the initiative founder, Sharda Ten Hove.

For more information about Yoga Gives Back, check out their website

For free community yoga - message their facebook (Free Yoga Samui Community) page or join the group for regular class updates. All proceeds from their classes go to fund small local initiatives helping people in need.

Sharda & Anouk

4. Trash Heros

Beach cleans have long been a feature on Koh Samui, however in recent years there has been a concerted effort on the part of residents to clean up Samui's beaches.

Regular meet-ups around the island often include a warm-up fitness session by one of the island's many personal trainers before the beaches are tackled by a group of enthusiastic volunteers. A beach BBQ often follows.

Trash Heros Thailand operate around Thailand and the Trash Hero mission is to create sustainable, community-based projects that remove existing waste, and reduce future waste by inspiring long-term behaviour change. "Action and Awareness. We pick up trash. Whether a cigarette butt on the road, or 20,000 kilos from island beaches – if we see it, we clean it!"

Recent initiatives include the introduction of refillable water bottles which can be purchased from a number of retail outlets including the Yogarden and refilled for free with drinking water at any one of the numerous refill stations around the island.

For creative souls - sponsored decorated rubbish bins can be purchased and painted at the home of the super inspiring hoop goddess, Idania Lucia Reiss (Donna), and placed on local beaches. The "owners" must also be responsible for emptying the bins!

5. Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants

There are an increasing number of good vegan and vegetarian restaurants on the island and these include:

The Art Cafe (Samui Town Centre, Bophut)

Sweet Sisters Cafe 086 470 8631

Samui Health Shop by Lamphu Samui Health Shop by Lamphu

Greenlight Cafe

Lamai Veggie 089 723 2061

There are also many small independent vegan food suppliers also including Uschi at Healing Taste. Uschi makes a wide variety of delicious vegan cheeses and also runs vegan cookery workshops. Check out her Facebook page (Healing Taste) for further details.

6. Elimination of Plastic Bags, Straws etc

Generally there appears to be an increasing awareness of and a move away from the use of plastics (straws and bags in particular). Our neighbors on Koh Tao have all but eliminated these but Samui has a long way to go.

We as individuals can start by refusing plastic bags when we shop and straws in bars and restaurants.

I took my kids recently to see the incinerator and huge rubbish dump recently and they were completely horrified by the amount of waste and how it get disposed of. It was truly a gruesome sight as well as smelling disgusting.

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