Becoming Eco friendly and off-grid on Phuket island in Thailand means trying to live in a way that is not harmful to the environment. This way of life is becoming increasingly important, as we need to protect Phuket island, the rest of Thailand, and our world from human-made damage.
Ways to make Phuket island more Eco friendly, and a better place to live
There are various ways that an individual can make sustainable changes in order to lessen the negative affect that our daily lives. It can be from a small change, like using a recyclable water bottle, planting a few trees, or riding a bicycle instead of driving their car to a bigger investment changes, such as installing solar panels or a heat pump system for cooling and making the switch to renewable energy for your home or business.
The truth is that most people who live or visit Phuket, and around the world, struggle to make a meaningful change because they simply don’t know where to begin, the change is to expensive, or they sadly ‘talk the talk’ just to look good, but behind closed doors they simply can’t be bothered. Sad uh!
This comprehensive guide covers four main aspects of your life to help you make a contribution to reducing climate change effects, and being more eco friendly in your daily life. The question is, will individuals and business owners on Phuket take it upon themselves to embrace lifestyle changes for the sake of Phuket, and the planet? Time will tell. The bottom line is that Airplanes emit carbon dioxide in the air, the pool in your Hotel, apartment block or Villa drains the natural water recourses, toxic cleaning materials and cosmetic kill good bacteria and pollute the ground, rivers and ocean, Diesel and petrol vehicles emit massive CO2 emissions and the AC, lights and electric appliances use a lot of energy. So, what to do?
Invest in Renewable Energy for Electricity & Cooling in your home or business
A way that households, Hotels and businesses can be more eco friendly is to invest in a renewable energy source for electricity. Most households are on a grid that provides energy from a non-sustainable source, like oil or gas.
A heat pump system is for cooling or heating water in your Phuket home or business on Phuket, and is a powerful Eco-friendly alternative for reduce energy, CO2 and your future bills by replacing fossil fuel boilers and old air-conditioning units for homes and businesses all over Phuket, Thailand and Asia. In time installing a heap pump will also reduce your monthly bills, making it a great investment. To read more about heat pumps on Phuket read on.
Solar Panels & Wind Turbines
Solar panels are an example of a renewable energy technology that uses the sun as an energy source. This photovoltaic system utilises the sun’s energy and transforms it into electricity. Solar panels are a much more environmentally clean option than using energy derived from the burning of fossil fuels, and it saves you money in the long run. Off-grid is best!
Wind turbines harness the energy of the breeze to turn it into electricity. When the wind blows, it pushes the blades of the turbine and makes them spin. This spinning turns a shaft inside the turbine, which powers a generator, which turns the kinetic energy of the spinning motion into electricity. Regular wind turbines are usually very tall, and have gigantic blades, to catch as much wind power as possible. Obviously, when you have one in your Phuket back garden or Hotel grounds you can’t have it built to the same scale, so you won’t capture nearly as much energy. That’s why domestic wind turbines are only recommended for people or businesses who are based in rural, hilltop or extra-windy areas. If you do then you should look into setting up a wind turbine. How cool is that! Read more about Phuket solar panels or a home wind turbine read on.
Having an abundant supply of clean, drinking water is a top priority for any home or business owner around Phuket island. For people living on the grid, quenching their thirst or taking a refreshing shower is as simple as turning on a tap but if you’re thinking about trying out an off-grid lifestyle for your Phuket home or business sourcing and using water becomes a much more involved process.
There are though more sources of water than many people realize. Wells and rainwater collection are the most obvious answer, but there are several other ways to source water sustainably such as extracting water from springs and rivers, using water pumps, filtration and treatment systems, and even larger desalination plants, which is the process by which the dissolved mineral salts in water are removed and turned into fresh water, but a lot of energy and the technology is needed to desalinate water. Read more about Off grid water systems read on.
Use Eco-cleaning products to clean your Phuket home, Hotel or business.
A lot of mainstream cleaning products contain various ingredients that are harmful to the environment. In fact, a lot of chemicals used to clean our clothes, dishes, and house end up causing damage to our planet and its biodiversity.
Chemicals such as detergents, preservatives, or foaming agents are the ones that cause the most harm to nature. Switching to products that contain sustainably grown or raised ingredients that do not deplete the ecosystem, nor harm it when expelled back out. People should ideally opt for products that contain no synthetic ingredients if they want to go for eco friendly household products. Bottom line is to avoid any cleaning products marked “Danger” or “Poison” completely, It’s a no brainer really but just in case I thought I would suggest this. Also, check all labels and look out for cleaning products that harm the environment. The main ones are:
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATs or QACs)
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Methylisothiazolinone (MI)
Eco Friendly Toilet Paper
A lot of trees are cut down in order to make toilet paper rolls. It requires at least 17 trees and 90,921 litres of water for a tonne of paper rolls. As the average person uses 100 rolls in a year, using regular toilet paper is not a sustainable habit.
So what to do when we need a Eco poo? Well, you could use recycled toilet paper, or better still source eco friendly toilet paper made out of bamboo for your Phuket home, business or Hotel. Carbon emissions from producing bamboo rolls are 30% lower than recycled toilet paper and 65% lower than regular toilet roll. Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide, produces more oxygen, and grows 5 times faster than trees! Don’t worry about the Pandas, they will be fine!
Use a Recyclable Eco Friendly Water Bottles
Purchasing water bottles is a common practice – particularly in warm weather. However, a lot of water bottles end up in the ocean as a lot of people fail to recycle them properly. This results in a high rate of pollution in our oceans and the overall environment, as one plastic bottle will break down into 10,000 microplastic pieces over time – and this microplastic pollution is incredibly hard to clean up. A solution to this problem is to invest in a water bottle that is not only reusable but also the right size, so you can take it with you whenever you travel. Re-using a water bottle also saves money in the long run, as fewer plastic bottles will need to be purchased.
Start planting as many trees as you can in your garden, along the roadsides, around your business, and in hedges, paths, river banks and empty grassland. Trees help to combat global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide, removing and storing carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air. They also reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It’s estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°C. Other environmental benefits include the fact they help to prevent flooding and soil erosion, by absorbing thousands of litres of storm water.
From birds and insects, to cicadas, bats, geckos and even gibbons, trees provide a canopy and a habitat for many species of wildlife on Phuket. But they don’t just act as a home for wildlife; the fruits from trees provide food for them too. Unfortunately, even Phuket has also seen mass deforestation over the years mainly from rubber and palm oil plantations to over-population and tourism, but as deforestation continues we must put back what we’re taking away. By planting more trees, it will contribute to global reforestation efforts, restoring lost forests, repairing damaged ecosystems and mitigating climate change. There are a few good groups on Phuket you could join as a local or tourist. Search online and you will find them, but If you live on Phuket, and have your own home or business, simply go out, buy as many trees as possible and plant them in as many places as possible on your property. The mentioned groups and local Government should be doing their best to also plant more tree along the road sides, pathways, empty grasslands, river banks etc.
Trees to plant on Phuket
These below trees are strong, easy to grow and offer good CO2 output. The below trees are commonly found in Asia and Thailand in large quantities, plus they build the base of a plantation system.
Name: Ficus benjamina (Weeping fig, benjamin fig or ficus tree) CO2 Output: 150 Kg
Name: Albizia lebbeck Benth (Woman’s Tongue, or cha-cha) CO2 Output: 440 Kg
Name: Caryota urens (Bastard sago tree, fishtail palm, jaggery palm, toddy palm, wine palm) CO2 Output: 20 Kg
Name: Ficus hispida (Hairy Fig) CO2 Output: 150 Kg
Name: Prunus cerasoides (Wild Himalayan cherry and sour cherry) CO2 Output: 150 Kg
Name: Millingtonia hortensis (Jasmine or Indian cork tree) CO2 Output: 150 Kg
Name: Flacourtia jangomas (Coffee plum tree) CO2 Output: 150 Kg
Name: Afzelia xylocarpa (Fruiting tree or Makha Tree) CO2 Output: 800 Kg
Name: Veitchia merrillii (Palm tree) CO2 Output: 150 Kg
Name: Albizia saman (Saman tree, Algarrabo, Rain tree, Cow bean tree, Cow tamarind, Monkey pod, Giant thibet, Acacia) CO2 Output: 780 Kg
Name: Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Thailand rosewood, Siamese rosewood, or Tracwood) CO2 Output: 520 Kg
Name: Tectona grandis (Teak wood, Indian oak or Teak tree) CO2 Output: 280 Kg
Name: Pachira aquatica (Money Tree, Guiana Chestnut or the Sable Nut) CO2 Output: 80 Kg
Replace Diesel and Petrol Cars and Coaches with Environmentally Friendly ones on Phuket. Like all major tourist destinations Phuket has a massive issue with too many vehicles on the road, and it’s only going to get worse. Cars are a major cause of global warming, mainly due to the amount of pollution that they emit. Diesel and petrol cars are the main culprits of CO2 emissions. In order to combat this, electric and hybrid cars are rising in popularity as they reduce overall emissions. This is mainly due to the fact that electric cars run on batteries, rather than a combusting fuel source. Hybrid cars on the other hand use both as a fuel source but switch sources as their fuel capacity gets low, but mixing electric cars, buses or motorbikes with solar and wind energy in the long run will offer free transport costs to any family or business. Alternatively, buy a bicycle and ride it. It will keep you healthy, and will help the environment.
Just like ingredients in cleaning products, regular shampoo, conditioner, soaps and cosmetics also contain various toxic ingredients that are washed down the drain and end up in the ocean again. Before this stage some ingredients in your favourite soap or shampoo contribute a big part towards deforestation. Have you really looked at the label? The chemicals in those ingredients are often toxic in nature and should not be used. Wherever they end up, they may hurt the biodiversity. The fast fashion mentality in the beauty industry is a huge problem for the planet, and the bottom line is these companies say they care but they don’t. Not only do they encourage overspending and waste through their mindless, but effective marketing campaigns, but they are also responsible for a lot of environmental damage we see today on land and in the ocean. For this reason opt for non-synthetic, Fairtrade and Organic ingredients when shopping for cosmetics, and use bottles or packaging that use only eco friendly materials. The question is…do you really care?
If you do care, and you want to start buying cosmetics without any toxic chemicals, do not cause deforestation, and are better for the biodiversity then read on.
These are also very basic things you can do to start with. Just little things that become big things if we all decide to put it into practice:
Get a refillable water bottle, and bring it with you. I know it’s pretty basic but it is important! You will want to drink a lot of water in the tropical temperature of Phuket. When you are thirsty, it’s all too easy to buy one of those little plastic bottles that cost almost nothing. Before you know it, you’ve drunk 3 or 4 of these bottles in a day and eventually they end up in the river or they will get burned on the side of the road.
Avoid plastic bags. You will get a plastic bag with everything you buy on Phuket. Solution? Bring your own reusable shopping bag. Fold it up and bring it everywhere you go.
Say no to straws. You’ll get them with drinks. Say ‘no thank you’ and carry around your own steel, glass or bamboo straw. You can buy them on the island at places like Phuket Budda and Earth Cafe and they come with smart straw covers.
Use natural sunscreen. Most sunscreens have got the harmful ingredient oxybenzone inside. An ingredient that kills and bleaches coral reefs.
Flying and accommodation in Phuket
Obviously long intercontinental flights to Phuket, or flying in general or flights to anywhere in the world, is not good for environment, and contribute heavily to global warming, but saying this we all must be realistic in the 21st century when it comes to being Eco-friendly minded and travelling, unless you are one of those hypocrites who like to preach but then does the opposite. Here is what to keep in mind when you have no other option than to travel by plane:1. Firstly, airlines are now trying their best to reduce the impact so the 1st thing to do is before you book the flight, check if your airline has any eco-friendly program.
2. Book non-stop flights. A non-stop would be the best option for it’s the take-offs and landings that add up the most to an airplane’s carbon emissions.
3. Travel less and stay longer.
4. Choose airlines that are environmentally conscious
5. Travel light! ONLY take the minimum needed when departing and then once you arrive at your destination buy everything you need there. This goes for cloths, cosmetics, footwear, towels etc. This not only saves you on Baggage weight allowance at the airport but also helps the local Phuket shop keepers out.
Phuket happens to have some pretty amazing eco villas and Hotels out there, beautifully built with local materials such as teak wood and other timbers, bamboo, rattan and natural stone. They are stunning accommodations that blend in seamlessly with the tropical surroundings of the island. There are also many other accommodations who don’t have the big bucks but who have started to plant trees around the grounds, use environmental friendly building materials, converted to green energy like solar or wind turbines, or have even adapted heat pumps in place of power sucking air-conditioning. Apart from booking your Phuket island accommodation online, there are more little things you can do to make your holiday to Phuket even more green:1. Choose accommodation where the owners have at least tried turning their establishment into becoming more Eco-friendly. Any accommodation owner should have this outlined on their website by now, or it would be the 1st thing I would advertise if I wanted to attract more guests.
2. Save power: Turn off the AC and lights when you are out.
3. Save water: Don’t shower longer than necessary and why not try a cold shower for a change? It can be quite refreshing on a hot day and it is also a healthy practice.
3. Reuse your towels and tell the staff you will.
4. Bring/buy ONLY organic biodegradable soap, shampoo and sun tan lotion.
More and more organic, vegan, vegetarian and raw-food restaurants are popping out the ground in popular places in Phuket like Bangtao, Patong and Rawai etc. Going green is not only a healthy thing to do but it is also cool! Using fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, these eating places support the local communities and they are perfectly eco-conscious and sustainable. The vegetarian and vegan food industry uses a whole lot less water and land than the animal farming industries. Slowing down on your meat and dairy consumption is an essential step towards sustainability and environmental consciousness. Phuket is a great place to dive into this world of healthy food and you’ll be pleased to find out that it’s pretty darn tasty, too! Don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out on your daily latte or cappuccino – try it with coconut, almond or cashew milk instead and have it with a slice of raw chocolate to go straight to guiltfree foodie heaven.
It is sad but true that a big percentage of Phuket souvenirs are actually made in China. You simply can not avoid it. The only way is to buy directly from local indigenous (Phuket) artisans. This way, you are supporting the local community and artists directly, and you are really giving something back to the island and the local people of Phuket, that’s if you can find one :). This way can be sure it is natural, handmade, made on Phuket, and really worth your money. For starters, go stroll around on the markets where you can meet local farmers and artisans. You can score a nice healthy breakfast here too, and the ambience is lovely with a mix of locals, expats, tourists. Ask your accommodation reception where to go for local hand-made crafts, artists and markets, and be aware that not all smiling smiles offering to take you will have your best interest in mind. Its not a bad thing but it’s unfortunately a commission world out there, and some will take you places that they know that they will get a few bucks commission if you buy something. Saying this, you’ll also have a guide for the day so chill out and enjoy the experience!
Eco-friendly Island Activities
Phuket is a stunning place with a unique culture. During your eco-inspired holiday to this gorgeous little island, surely you will be exploring the beaches. Go swim in those azure and turquoise waters, ride the waves and explore the colourful world beneath the surface full of coral gardens and exotic marine life. Make sure not to litter, not to touch the corals and to wear oxybenzone-free sunblock. Also, pay a visit to some beautiful temples and go see some of the island’s waterfalls (bring your bathers, too!) A sustainable traveller keeps his/her footprint as invisible as possible, respects the local culture, nature and the wildlife. A sustainable traveller is a ‘slow traveller’, taking more time in one place, using local transport instead of another plane to get somewhere as fast as possible. Choose your accommodation carefully, eat local food, do eco-friendly activities and shops ethically. It’s actually not a hard thing to travel sustainably, we just need to pay a little more attention to where we go and what we do so that the money we spend goes right back to the island and its people. Happy travels 🙂
Sustainable & Locally Sourced Materials
To reduce the carbon footprint today’s green home are built by using recycled and local materials, however, not only the use of green or sustainable materials is important, but the appropriate techniques and system for reasonable applications and the life-cycle, environmental impact, toxicity, and waste management must be taken into account.
Energy Efficient Equipment’s
Creating or buying an eco-friendly home on Phuket is all about incorporating features that will help reduce your carbon footprint throughout the years. So think about incorporating in your home LED lighting, solar panels or wind turbines, and eco-friendly cooling and hot water system heat pumps are 3 of the main things all Phuket Villa’s, apartment’s, restaurants and bars, and Hotel type business should be looking into.
Saving water and reducing water consumption is an important part of green living, especially here in Phuket where water is precious. While it is possible to save water by stopping dripping taps, not leaving taps running and other conservation tips, installing new water efficient devices, such monsoon water storage tanks and pumps are some of the best ways to ensure that water is conserved and not wasted. Read more If you are thinking of buying a Phuket home, but want a more Eco-friendly concept then discover the benefits of owning a sustainable Villa or Apartment on Phuket island. Read more