Kayaking for Chao Phraya : Stop Litter in Our River!

10-23 December 2018

Rivers used to be the arteries of cities in Thailand.  They used to be clean, but now they are choking on waste that people have littered.  No matter how much waste we remove, there will still be more to clean because people keep littering in the rivers.  80% of waste in the rivers ends up in the ocean, making Thailand the 6th most ocean polluting country in the world. To tackle the source of the problem we must stop littering in the rivers.  Thammasat University–jointly with Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Interior, Marine Department of Ministry of Transport, Royal Irrigation Department of Ministry of Agriculture, Naval Civil Affairs Department, Mahidol University, National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Big Trees Group and NGO’s in 10 provinces along Chao Phraya river–organized “Kayaking for Chao Phraya-Stop Litter in Our River!” on 10-23 December 2018 starting at Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan Province and ending at Pra Samut Chedi in Samut Prakarn Province.

This campaign included 10 main kayaks that covered 400 kilometers of the Chao Phraya River, led by Assc. Prof. Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, vice rector of Thammasat University, kayaks and boats from participating provinces, and kayaks team from Thammasat University.  As the kayaks passed from province to province, the Governor of every province participated in the campaign. The goal is not to only clean the river, but also to raise awareness among people in 10 provinces along the Chao Phraya river, government, and private sector to stop littering in the Chao Phraya river, as well as other rivers all over Thailand.

Mahidol University also conducted tests on samples of water from the Chao Phraya river to determine the level of microplastics, tiny particles from plastic waste that can be absorbed into our bodies through consumption of river fish.  There have been very few studies in this field which is actually very close to our daily lives.

During this campaign, all of the participating provinces used plates, utensils, and cups that were washable and re-usable.  Kayakers did not use any single use plastic water bottles. Along the route, waste in the river was collected and separated to show riverfront communities how to effectively recycle.

This campaign was a joint effort of various government and private sector organizations.  Department of Environmental Quality Promotion of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was responsible for separating and recycling wastes.  Department of Pollution Control was responsible for managing single use plastic waste. Ministry of Interior and NGO’s organized kayaking and recycling activities along the routes.  Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation of Ministry of took care of security and boats to collect wastes from the river. Marine Department of Ministry of Transport provided additional boats.  Royal Irrigation Department of Ministry of Agriculture managed water gates along the route. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration provided waste collecting boats. Mahidol University conducted tests on the quality of water.  National Institute of Development Administration took public opinion poll on problems relating to river waste. Thammasat University provided kayaks for people in different provinces to join the campaign. Petroleum Authority of Thailand, Siam Commercial Bank, PTT Global Chemical, Iconsiam shopping mall, and many other NGO’s also supported this campaign.

The campaigners did not ask for public donations because the campaign’s goal was to increase awareness and create action in communities in 10 provinces along the Chao Phraya river to stop littering in the river.  Anyone who wants to participate can follow the group’s past and future activities online at https://www.facebook.com/TrashChaophrayaKayaking/. People can also pledge online to stop littering in the river at https://www.trashriver.live/.

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