Connect with us


Profile: Rich Cramp – Keeping our beaches clean



PHUKET: Rich Cramp is the Phuket organizer of Trash Hero, an organization dedicated to solving the global garbage problem. He has a degree in English Literature and currently teaches at HeadStart International School in Phuket. He spent part of his childhood in Thailand, before moving to Hong Kong, then Taiwan and finally settling in England.

“I moved back to Thailand to travel and teach after 22 years away, and this is part of the reason I decided to start Trash Hero in Phuket – I saw the effect of 20 years of unregulated plastic pollution,” he says.

Rich laments the fact that only hotels and businesses near the beach focus their efforts on garbage collection and disposal, with little or no input from the government, despite the fact that one of Thailand’s main attractions is the beaches.

“One image I’ll never forget is seeing some Thai children taking selfies on a beach that was covered in rubbish. What got me was that they didn’t seem to be aware of the rubbish they were standing in. Or if they were, they thought it was normal and still worth a photo. At once I knew there were two problems: the beaches aren’t looked after and the need for education in Thailand regarding plastic pollution is huge,” says Rich.

Rich believes the most important step toward solving the garbage crisis is educating the youth about pollution and its effects on the planet.

“If any of our Trash Heroes grow up to be in a position of influence, just imagine the difference they can make. The whole concept of sustainability is that we are borrowing the world from future generations and whatever we put in it, they will have to deal with. It shows kids that you need to get off the couch, stop signing petitions on Facebook and get your hands dirty to fix the world’s problems,” he says.

Rich is more than happy with the response to Trash Hero’s cleanup campaigns and says that all kinds of people, ranging from local street sweepers to tourists and expats, show up at the cleanups. However, he believes there is still much more to be done, particularly with regard to changing people’s mindsets.

“Someone once wrote online that initiatives like ours don’t make a difference – don’t believe the naysayers. On average, we pick up 200kg of trash every week, which means that by August next year we will have stopped about ten tonnes of rubbish floating back into the ocean,” he says.

Rich says that laying the blame on tourists may be easy, but it’s not the solution.

“A lot of the stuff we pick up isn’t just litter from tourists, although the current narrative is that tourists are the main problem. They certainly are part of the problem, but if we are to fix this, there needs to be a culture of openness and dialogue,” says Rich.

Rich’s message is simple – prevention is key.

“In future Trash Hero Phuket campaigns, we want to take action on plastic bags before they leave the shops. I’d also like to work with the local fishing industry to see if we can reduce the amount of trash being dumped into the seas by some of the boats,” he says.

Being a full-time teacher and a family man, finding the time to commit to the initiative is one of the biggest challenges for him.

“At the moment, I join clean-ups every two weeks. Sounds simple, but not when you have to arrange printing of t-shirts, post boxes of bottles, find sponsors and attend the clean-ups themselves. It all adds up. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is the official sponsor and has been of great help to us. At the end of the day, once you’ve cleaned a beach and the sun is setting, it’s a great feeling,” he says.

— Sahar Aftab Paliwala


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Eastern Thailand1 hour ago

German man believed to have monkeypox briefly fled police

Thailand2 hours ago

New app to help migrant women in Thailand facing abuse

Cambodia3 hours ago

Nigerian man recovers from monkeypox, handed to Cambodian authorities

Sponsored2 days ago

The return of the most important coffee event in Thailand

World4 hours ago

Unusually heavy floods in Pakistan kill 549, thousands of homes damaged

Thailand4 hours ago

How to get the Thailand Elite Visa?

Transport5 hours ago

BTS is offering a free ride… with your mom

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Bangkok5 hours ago

Fire at Energy Ministry’s compound in Bangkok

Phuket6 hours ago

2 meth busts in Phuket this past week

Politics6 hours ago

NIDA Poll: PM Prayut should not extend term after August 24

Chon Buri8 hours ago

Mountain Pub fire: 15 victims dead, owner arrested, club uninsured

Chon Buri8 hours ago

Police transferred, safety measures enacted in wake of Mountain B fire

Bangkok9 hours ago

Bangkok taxi driver who snapped himself raping teen gets jailed

Video9 hours ago

Building a $100mil business in Thailand feat. Michael Kenner | Thaiger Podcast Ep. 1

Tourism10 hours ago

Major jump in Thailand Airbnb searches

Economy11 hours ago

Thailand’s hotels are short on workers

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11