The Day That Changed Everything

How a cheeky little beach clean up turned into an ultimate race against time 

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A couple of weeks ago I was going through my old "notes" on my iPhone. Scrolling all the way back to 2017, I stumbled across what felt like ancient writings I had done throughout my travels. Nostalgia kicked in as I observed my docs. It was all there, tabs on my where about, my surroundings, experiences, recommendations for that next leg and especially personal letters that seemed to flow out of me at any given moment back then. I was immediately transported to a different time, seeing my old self in writing while experiencing my new true self in the moment. What a different perspective, especially when I stumbled across this old note that takes me back to the very exact moment I realized I could make a different , I actually found it right before I arrived to the Big Island, and these pictures were discovered and resurfaced again just like my notes. 

10/13/17

"I'm not one to do this but today something really amazing happened and I feel the need to share this message and experience. 

 

We just arrived to Koh Phagan's Good Time Hostel and decided to use the day to relax and regroup. We found ourselves hanging in hammocks admiring the incredible view when I got antsy and realized the amount of trash lining the coast. I decided it was time to do a little search for sea glass and a clean up.  I filled up a single trash bag within the first 10 yards and 5 minutes. Plastic was everywhere. My heart sunk, but because of that I turned around and emptied it to continue. This time I grabbed a wheelbarrow. On the second trip out I saw three little kids, 2 boys and a little girl, struggling in the sand along the shore in the distance. As I rushed closer to lend a helping hand, I noticed that they were trying to get their motor bike out of the water. The bike found itself in the ocean and was sinking in the sand. and fast. I sprinted over as quickly as possible and gripped my hands on the handlebars. 3 kids in the back pushing as I used my entire body weight to wiggle the submerged front wheel out of the sand.  The waves came crashing down, it was as if we would take 1 step forward and 2 back. With no-one else close on the beach, this needed to work. And then the waves simmered. Somehow, right before the water swept the bike under, all 4 of us were able to lift the bike back into the dry sand. The children were so grateful. The value of a motor bike like that to a family is indescribable here in Thailand and I was just happy I was there and that they were all safe. As we said our goodbyes and I started walking away, I realized why the bike ended up in the sea in the first place  The kids were disposing their trash into the streams that were leading directly into the ocean. They would then cover it up with sand. Out of site, out of mind. In a way the trash was no longer their problem. The children had so much trash to dispose that they lost track of their bike causing it to drift with the tide. After being in Thailand for a couple weeks now, I couldn't blame them. They were only children, maybe ages 6-12, and I don't think they really have ever been informed about the repercussions of such actions.  I knew I had an options. I could either walk away and go about my day, or I could attempt to say something. I approached the children and held my bag out smiling. It was worth a shot. Immediately all three of them started collecting the plastic they had tossed in the stream and started filling up my bag. I was so grateful for their assistance  and change in heart as they cleaned the waterway just in time for the tides to take the trash out to sea. As we finished,  I hugged them all and I continued my walk along the coast. There was still so much trash.  I replayed that interaction in my head as I continued my search. "Maybe next time they find themselves at the beach they will look at the plastic differently", I thought. Maybe that one decision to say something changed their mind or gave them enough knowledge to reconsider putting their plastic in the ocean.  Only one can hope, you know? I then felt a  gentle tap on my side. As I turned around, the little girl was handing me an empty sprite bottle that had washed up along the shore, and behind her was her two older brothers with a few extras plastic bottles. They were following me, cleaning up pieces I couldn't. We couldn't communicate with our words, but through action we became a team that morning. They then walked with me for five minute collecting as much plastic as they could fit in their little arms. We filled the wheelbarrow, leaving the beaches cleaner then we all found it and as we went our separate ways, I gifted the young girl with the sea glass necklace I was wearing.  The power of a simple action. I don't think I will ever be able to forget this moment. 

I never saw these children again, but I think about them dearly all the time because I learned such an valuable lesson from them on this day. You never know how your words or actions can rub off on people. Kindness is contagious and education is key in the world we live in today.  If we take the time to teach children from all over the world the importance of preserving our planet, we are leaving the future in such better hands.  This was the day that I made it my mission to clean up every beach I explored for sea glass and also the day I decided to focus my pop up shops on conservation. Because if we don't speak about it, how will they know?  Express your love and support for what you care about. Your words just might completely change someones point of view or perspective. "

 

xo, 

 ab