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Becoming a PADI Eco Center: Aloha Diving, Thailand

Simon Wenk from Thailand’s first PADI Eco Center, Aloha Diving in Phuket, recounts his team’s sustainability journey over the past 4 years. Along the way, he offers some great advice and fresh ideas for any PADI Member seeking to make authentic and worthwhile progress in conservation whilst impactfully improving the sustainability of your dive business.

When and why did you first start taking sustainability and conservation seriously in your dive business?

We began taking sustainability and conservation seriously in our dive business after being inspired by advertisements of global brands focusing on sustainability, green practices, and carbon neutrality. This exposure made us realize the growing consumer awareness surrounding these issues, including trends like flight-shaming and the rise of eco-tourism.

Understanding the significance of our dive center’s greatest asset, the ocean, we recognized the need to take action. We realized that by embracing sustainability, we could contribute to the protection and preservation of marine ecosystems and make a positive impact on the environment.

By following the global trend towards sustainability, we acknowledged the importance of aligning our business with the values and expectations of environmentally conscious customers. We aimed to address the potential impacts of human activities on the ocean, such as coral reef degradation and harm to marine life.

In essence, our decision to prioritize sustainability and conservation was driven by a combination of the consumer awareness we observed and our desire to contribute to the well-being of the ocean.

How many years have you been working on sustainability/conservation to get to where you are now?

Aloha Diving has been actively working on sustainability and conservation for a period of four years to reach its current state.

What steps did you take in your sustainability journey?

Throughout our sustainability journey, we have taken several steps to minimize our environmental impact and contribute to conservation efforts:

Partnering with OceansForAll: We became a Blue Pass member, collaborating with Oceansforall to offset the carbon emissions from our dive boat. This partnership allows us to take responsibility for our carbon footprint and support initiatives that promote carbon neutrality.
In September 2022, as soon as it became available, we joined as Green Fins Digital Members. Since then, we have actively utilized the valuable resources provided by Green Fins. We make use of their CONSERVATION TOOLS and briefing guidelines, which are readily accessible for free on the Green Fins website.
To ensure that our dive staff is well-equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, we have made it a priority for them to complete the DIVE GUIDE E-COURSE offered by Green Fins. This course provides comprehensive training on sustainable diving practices and conservation techniques, aligning our team with the best practices advocated by Green Fins.
By becoming Green Fins Digital Members and utilizing their resources, we have enhanced our commitment to sustainability and conservation in the diving industry. The tools and guidelines provided have allowed us to effectively integrate sustainable practices into our daily operations and ensure that our dive staff is well informed about the importance of environmental preservation.
We are grateful for the support and guidance from Green Fins, which has helped us further our sustainability efforts and contribute to the protection of our precious marine ecosystems.
Engaging with the local Rotary Club: As members of a local Rotary Club, we have the opportunity to participate in community work, including environmental projects. We have been involved in initiatives such as the creation of a 3D-printed artificial reef and organizing turtle releases, contributing to the preservation of marine habitats and the conservation of sea turtle populations.
Single-use plastic-free dive center: We have made a commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from our dive center. By providing reusable alternatives and promoting eco-friendly practices, we aim to reduce plastic waste and protect marine ecosystems from plastic pollution.
Adoption of biodegradable cleaning agents: As part of our continuous efforts, we have recently implemented the use of all biodegradable cleaning agents throughout our dive center. By choosing environmentally friendly products, we ensure that our cleaning practices have minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

By taking these steps, we strive to create a sustainable and responsible diving operation that not only minimizes our environmental footprint but also contributes positively to the communities and marine environments we operate in. We believe that by embracing these practices, we can inspire others to join us in protecting our oceans and preserving the beauty of our natural world.

What actions did you take/solutions did you implement that have worked well for you?

Simply all. By compensating the carbon footprint with a donation to a environmental foundation gives us the the freedom to focus on what we do best diving. Our partners are specialists in their field. We believe that beach clean ups done by us in a holiday destination do not show great interest among the visitors. There are plenty of non profit organizations like trash hero and government agencies doing their part in keeping the beaches clean.

We have found that one of the most effective actions we took was compensating our carbon footprint through a donation to an environmental foundation. This approach allowed us to focus on our core expertise in diving while leaving the carbon offsetting to specialized partners who are experts in their field. By collaborating with them, we ensure that our carbon emissions are mitigated effectively, giving us the freedom to concentrate on providing exceptional diving experiences.

In terms of beach clean-ups, we have realized that our efforts may not generate significant interest among visitors in a holiday destination. Instead, we have recognized the valuable work being carried out by non-profit organizations like Trash Hero and government agencies who are dedicated to keeping the beaches clean. By supporting and promoting their initiatives, we contribute to the overall cleanliness of the beaches and collaborate with existing entities working towards a cleaner environment.

Overall, we have found that focusing on carbon offsetting through partnerships and supporting established organizations working on beach clean-ups has been a successful approach. It allows us to have a meaningful impact on sustainability while directing our resources and efforts towards providing exceptional diving experiences for our customers.

What lessons did you learn along the way?

Along our journey, we have learned valuable lessons that have shaped our approach to sustainability and conservation:

Boldness and Dedication: We discovered that being bold and fully committed to our sustainability goals has been crucial. By embracing sustainability wholeheartedly and giving 100% effort, we have been able to make significant progress and achieve positive outcomes.
No Regrets: Our unwavering dedication to sustainability has taught us that we have no regrets about any decision or action we have taken. Every step we have taken in the pursuit of sustainable practices and conservation has been worthwhile and has contributed to our overall success.
Continuous Learning: We have recognized the importance of continuous learning and staying updated with the latest advancements in sustainable practices. By actively seeking knowledge, attending workshops, and collaborating with experts, we have been able to refine our approaches and improve our impact.
Collaboration and Partnerships: We have learned the immense value of collaboration and partnerships. By working together with like-minded organizations, community groups, and environmental experts, we have been able to amplify our efforts and achieve more significant results than we could have alone.
Adaptability and Flexibility: We have embraced the need for adaptability and flexibility in our sustainability journey. As new challenges and opportunities arise, we have learned to adjust our strategies and practices to ensure our actions align with the ever-evolving sustainability landscape.

For PADI Members looking to become PADI Eco Centers, here is some advice:

Make a commitment: Clearly define your commitment to sustainability and conservation, ensuring it aligns with your business values and goals.
Education and training: Invest in educating your staff and customers about sustainable diving practices, environmental issues, and conservation efforts.
Partner and collaborate: Seek partnerships with local organizations and community groups to maximize your impact and contribute to larger-scale conservation initiatives.
Implement sustainable operations: Assess your operations and identify areas where you can reduce your environmental footprint, such as energy use, waste generation, and product sourcing.
Engage in conservation projects: Actively participate in local conservation projects and initiatives, both independently and in collaboration with others.

Remember, sustainability is a continuous journey, and each step, no matter how small, contributes to the greater goal of protecting our oceans and preserving the natural beauty of our planet.

In order to become a PADI Eco Center, each PADI operator has joined PADI AWARE’s Adopt the Blue network and demonstrated an exemplary level of environmental performance through The Reef-World Foundation’s Green Fins initiative. To learn more about PADI Eco Center and the steps you can take at your dive business to begin or continue your sustainability journey, check out the links below. 

PADI Eco Center Launches on Earth Day
Understanding PADI Eco Center: How To Demonstrate Exemplary Environmental Performance

The post Becoming a PADI Eco Center: Aloha Diving, Thailand appeared first on PADI Pros.

Conservation, adopt the blue, Green Fins, PADI Eco Center, project AWAREPADI Pros


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