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Ewen Mcleish

Bangkok, Thailand
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About Ewen
I am a freelance writer based in Bangkok, Thailand.  I specialise in stories about Sustainability, Education, Conservation and the Environment in the region.  Having lived in Thailand for 14 years, I have access to a growing network of people involved in environmental work and sustainable development. I always source original images to accompany my work.
Feature Stories Content Writing Research
Science & Environment Research Social

Rescuers struggle to save unemployed Thai elephants from worse than exploitation

04 May 2024  |  coconuts.co
The closure of Thailand's borders due to the pandemic has severely impacted the country's elephant tourism industry, leading to the closure of elephant camps and the unemployment of both elephants and their mahouts. With no tourists to provide revenue, some elephants have been put to work in potentially illegal and dangerous logging activities. Ethical sanctuaries like the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and the Elephant Nature Park, which rely on visitors and donations, have struggled to feed and care for their animals. The Save Elephant Foundation has provided assistance to approximately 2,000 elephants, but the government's support has been minimal. Despite the challenges, there have been positive developments, such as the rescue of 48 elephants and a growing dialogue about improving conditions for captive elephants.

With plastic-eating machines, Thai communities turn a profit fighting pollution

10 Apr 2024  |  coconuts.co
Precious Plastic Bangkok is leading a movement in Thailand to combat plastic pollution by providing communities with plastic recycling machines and training. These machines shred plastic waste and mold it into new products, turning environmental cleanup into profitable ventures. The PepsiCo Foundation has funded machines for seven communities, which are now creating items like pots, bowls, and decorative pieces. The initiative has reached various regions, from Bangkok's narrow alleys to the beaches south of Pattaya and the river estuaries of Samut Sakhon, as well as the northern province of Chiang Rai. The article highlights the positive impact on local communities and the environment, with individuals like Dominic Chakrabongse advocating for producer responsibility laws to further address the issue of plastic waste.

Did Thailand’s plastic bag ban solve our problem?

07 Apr 2024  |  coconuts.co
Thailand's plastic pollution problem persists despite a ban on plastic bags involving 75 key retailers. The ban, which was not comprehensive and faced challenges during the lockdown, has not been enough to address the issue. Environmental activists and organizations like Trash Hero, Greenpeace SE Asia, Grin Green International, Climate Strike Thailand, and Refill Station are working towards raising awareness, changing attitudes, and advocating for a more robust waste management system. The government has announced a roadmap to tackle plastic waste by 2030, but skepticism remains about its implementation. The article features insights from various environmental change-makers who are pushing for more significant actions to protect the environment.

Before it spawns the next pandemic, should Thailand stamp out the wildlife trade?

04 Apr 2024  |  coconuts.co
Vietnam's ban on wildlife trade to prevent disease outbreaks prompts discussion on whether Thailand should implement similar measures. Steven Galster of Freeland advocates for a strong law to reduce pandemic risks, highlighting Thailand's role as a wildlife trade hub. Illegal trade and legal breeding facilities complicate enforcement, with recent legal improvements still presenting challenges. The illegal wildlife trade is linked to organized crime and disease spread, with calls for better regulation and enforcement. Experts suggest targeted bans on high-risk species rather than blanket prohibitions, emphasizing the need to understand disease spillover dynamics. Freeland's proposed ban aims to reduce illegal trade and pathogen movement, with ongoing discussions with Thai officials on the matter.

Unsung trash heroes save Bangkok from choking on its own waste

01 Oct 2023  |  coconuts.co
Leung Ban, a waste collector in Bangkok, exemplifies the city's informal recycling system, which is crucial for managing waste but lacks formal protections and stable income. Despite challenges, including fluctuating market prices and health risks, these collectors significantly reduce environmental impact and government costs. Innovations like BeesGreen and Recycle Day aim to improve recycling efficiency and community involvement. As Bangkok strives for 100% recycling by 2030, supporting these unsung heroes is essential for a sustainable future.

As Tourist Numbers Rise, Trash Problem Escalates on Lombok’s Mount Rinjani

05 Apr 2023  |  Coconuts
The article recounts the author's trekking experience to Gunung Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia, highlighting the severe litter problem encountered throughout the journey. Despite the breathtaking views and the sacred nature of the site, the presence of garbage at campsites and around the crater lake was disheartening. The author references Lonely Planet's warning about litter and interviews other trekkers who share their dismay. The article also discusses the increase in tourist numbers and the efforts by local authorities to address the litter issue, including a 'trek it in, trek it out' policy and clean-up initiatives. However, the effectiveness of these measures is questioned. The author emphasizes the need for a comprehensive waste management system and responsible trekking practices to preserve Rinjani's beauty.

Environmental issues are challenging leaders and governments across the world.

01 Apr 2023  |  www.bangkokpost.com
The article discusses various initiatives in Thailand aimed at tackling environmental issues, particularly plastic pollution. It highlights the efforts of EcoBEASTs, a group formed by international school teachers in Bangkok, which focuses on educating young people about sustainability. The group organized a Community Action Day event at St Andrews International School, featuring workshops and activities. Grin Green International, a student-run initiative, is also mentioned for its campaign against single-use plastics. The article covers the involvement of Thai retail giants like Tesco Lotus and 7-Eleven in reducing plastic bag usage. Additionally, it showcases Precious Plastic Bangkok's recycling machine and Bambew's bamboo straws as examples of innovative solutions to plastic waste. The article emphasizes the importance of educating the younger generation to become future change-makers in environmental conservation.

COP26: How to use event to reduce pupil climate anxiety

21 Oct 2021  |  tes.com
Ewen Mcleish, a teacher and environmental sustainability coordinator, discusses the importance of educating children about climate change without causing climate anxiety. He highlights the increase in weather-related disasters over the past 50 years and the role of human influence in climate change, as reported by the World Meteorological Organization and the IPCC. Mcleish emphasizes the educator's responsibility to provide a hopeful narrative around climate change, detailing how he and his colleague Susan Whalley planned online lessons for key stage 2 students centered around the COP26 climate conference. The lessons aimed to empower students to understand the science of climate change, the significance of COP26, and how they can make their voices heard through a video message competition. The initiative seeks to foster hope and encourage young people to demand action from adults.

Pupils will never forget their virtual elephant safaris

29 Apr 2021  |  tes.com
Ewen McLeish, a teacher and environmental sustainability coordinator at St Andrews International School in Bangkok, describes the virtual elephant safaris organized by the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) for his students. The initiative aimed to educate students about endangered Asian elephants and conservation efforts. The virtual field trips were adapted for different age groups and included pre-safari learning about elephants, their habitats, and conservation challenges. The experience was interactive, with students asking questions and witnessing elephants in real-time. The success of the virtual safaris has inspired further educational activities and a school-wide focus on conservation, demonstrating innovative ways to engage students in real-world issues.

The Chinese diners eating a rare songbird into extinction, and the conservationists fighting to save the yellow-breasted bunting

05 Jul 2018  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the critical endangerment of the yellow-breasted bunting, a migratory bird whose population has declined by 90% since 1980, largely due to its popularity as a delicacy in southern China. Efforts to save the species are being led by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, international environmentalists, and academics, including Wieland Heim from the University of Münster. Heim's team attaches geolocators to the birds to track their migration routes and understand the decline. Illegal trapping in China, despite being banned, continues to threaten the species. Conservation projects in Hong Kong's Long Valley and initiatives in Myanmar are part of the efforts to protect the yellow-breasted bunting. The article highlights the importance of international cooperation and local conservation measures in saving the species from extinction.

China’s key role in international fight to save one of rarest birds in the world from extinction

18 Nov 2017  |  South China Morning Post
The spoon-billed sandpiper, a rare shorebird, is the focus of international conservation efforts to prevent its extinction. The bird breeds in Siberia and migrates to South and Southeast Asia, with key stopovers in China's Tiaozini mudflats and Thailand's coastal salt pans. Conservationists, including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Taskforce, are working on various initiatives such as 'head starting' and satellite tracking to protect the species. Local communities are being educated and involved in conservation, with efforts to sustainably source seafood and halt harmful land development. The bird's survival is dependent on international cooperation, with China playing a significant role.

Bangkok street artist Muebon champions environmental awareness with 'Save Our Forests' mural

05 Feb 2017  |  Coconuts
The article discusses Bangkok street artist Muebon, known for his skull with mouse ears logo, and his involvement in the global environmental campaign to save Indonesia's rainforests. Muebon has created a mural titled 'Save Our Forests' on the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre (BACC) as part of Greenpeace's Wings Of Paradise campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the destruction of rainforests for palm oil. The artist shared his background, the meanings behind his art, and his motivations for being a street artist. Muebon emphasizes the importance of forests in absorbing carbon dioxide and the need for public awareness of environmental issues. The mural features Muebon's signature flightless bird motif and an Indonesian bird of paradise, symbolizing the invasion of natural habitats by humans.

Trashing Trash: One woman is trying not to create any garbage in Bangkok

05 Feb 2017  |  Coconuts
Madeleine Recknagel, a German expat living in Bangkok, has adopted a zero-waste lifestyle to combat the excessive waste she observed in Thailand. Shocked by the country's growing garbage problem, she was inspired by her frugal upbringing in East Germany and the contrast with American consumerism. Recknagel has changed her daily habits to minimize waste, including shopping at traditional markets, using reusable containers, and making her own cleaning and beauty products. She composts organic waste and has found creative ways to reduce her environmental footprint. Recknagel shares her journey and tips through her blog 'The Sustainable Self' and is set to speak at the Wonderfruit festival to encourage others to reduce plastic use and waste.

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