Thai windsurfing champion Amara Wichithong at 57 he continues to surf on board, but no longer in favor of the wind. Paddleboarding is now the sport that Amara practices by sieving the waters and mangrove forests in the inlet of Pattaya Island, in Thailand, where she runs a windsurf shop to prevent the garbage from collecting in the ocean.
She has been doing this for years, together with a group of volunteers, wearing a shirt with the words I am a Trash Hero. As a reminder that each of us, in his own small way, can do something great to defend the environment.
However, their work stopped in March due to the pandemic that paralyzed half the world, starting with Southeast Asia. Amara now says she is seriously worried about the exponential increase in home food deliveries, which grew by a third in a month in Thailand, which will end up growing that mountain of waste, especially plastic, destined to end up at sea, making it levitate those over 8 billion tons already estimated before the arrival of Covid-19.
The proof is that only in Bangkok in April did plastic waste increase by 62%: this means 3,432 tons of plastic thrown away every day, for the most part bags and take-away trays.
Amara help nature by collecting wast with her surfboard
She told: "I fear that after the crisis, the sea will fill up with garbage, just like last year and the previous year.
Until we humans change our behaviors and become aware, we will not be never able to conserve nature." Amara team even reused the waste material to make it a net capable of trapping waste, leaving gaps for the passage of fish.
In reality, the former champion has been working to clean the sea since she was 10 years old, therefore for at least 20 years: the photos of when she paddled as a child are on her Facebook page, where she also shared the testimonies on the collections organized with schools for sensitize young people.
Amara explained in the last five years the pollution of Thai waters has worsened significantly. She said: "We have seen turtles and other marine animals die of plastic and I felt I had to do something." Amara's mission seems impossible, given that Thailand is one of the dustbin countries, with India, Malaysia and Vietnam, where tons of waste are stored in other continents.
Although the perception of the problem is changing, as marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat confirms, explaining that sightings of marine animals have increased. This suggests that a new sensitivity is developing on our environmental impact. But from here to change habits, unfortunately, it takes. And large-scale home pizza doesn't help.