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We all love to travel, but it’s very frustrating when you get to a natural habitat that was meant to be pristine. Plastic pollution on beaches is trending, and it affects severely wild and ocean life as well as the lifestyles of locals. Here are the most popular plastic beaches and some success stories of how they’ve been restored.
For all those that have travelled to countries in Asia or other islands around the world, there is one thing to notice: there is plastic pollution on beaches everywhere. It’s laying on the sand, behind trees, in the bushes and also on the waters of rivers and oceans. Sometimes we ask ourselves: “How did this even get here?” or “Why would you throw this on the open wild?”.
Truth is that plastic pollution is a story of humanity, as we all in some sort shape or form do contribute to this giant problem. Thankfully millions of people around the world are standing up against plastic pollution on beaches to organise beach clean-ups and raise awareness on the urgent need to reduce our waste.
How are beaches formed before plastic destruction
Landform alongside a large body of water is termed to become a beach. These are made of solid rocks, sedimentation, gravel, coralline algae, and shells along with other biological elements. Then waves and the prevailing weather conditions are responsible for the creation of different textures, gradients and colours of the material deposited.
Beach geologies keep changing over time, and now more than ever due to the climate change phenomenon: coastal beaches are being consistently impacted by severe weather conditions and rising sea levels.
However, this is not a reason to stop the human activity happening in the coastal areas. Where beaches are sandy, you’ll find a whole economy and culture around the local area, as beaches are often used for commercial usage.
What are the reasons behind plastic pollution on beaches?
Beaches are the ideal attraction for holiday-makers and travellers, which enjoy swimming in the ocean as much as other recreational activities involving hospitality like bars, restaurants, hotels and resorts.
More often than not, the tourists who visit these beaches leave them littered with all sorts of plastic and other wastes polluting the local area. Furthermore, in some countries, the lack of recycling and waste disposal methods as well as low education contributes to the locals dumping waste on the streets, beaches, rivers, and any other natural environment.
And if this wasn’t enough, besides the direct human factor, the local currents and waves help pollution to take its path. For example, take for example the beaches that are in the proximity of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where all the waste and floating plastics are washed onto the beaches. This rubbish, realistically, comes from countries far off.
So let’s find what are some of these (one time gorgeous) beaches around the world that have been severely affected by plastic pollution.
1. Kamilo Beach, Hawaii (United States)
The famous Kamilo Beach, located at the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii, was, in the ancient era, used by the native Hawaiians to collect the drifting large, evergreen, logs of wood.
These logs drifted onto this beach owing to the strong sea currents and were used for carving out boats from them, locally known as the dugout canoes.
Moreover, it is also rumoured that most of those lost at sea would eventually get washed ashore onto this beach because of the trade winds and the converging ocean currents.
As of today, this amazing beach is famous for being home to an assorted collection of garbage that comprises mostly solid plastic waste.
This waste that drifts onto this beach, is from as far off as Japan and Russia, and the reason for this is the proximity of this beach to the famous Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
2. Guanabara Bay Beaches, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
The Guanabara Bay, home to some of the best beaches in the world, is experiencing the impact of oil spills, deforestation, sewage, garbage and urbanisation etc. impacting the ecosystem of the Bay.
According to a census in 2014 it has come to the fore that 70% of the sewage from approximately 12 million inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro flows into this pristine bay, untreated.
These pristine beaches that were popular among swimmers and surfers are today facing an immense amount of pollution due to the untreated waste being let into the waters restricting the activities.
3. Pitcairn Island Group, the Henderson Island
An uninhabited coral atoll, in the South Pacific, the Henderson Island, which incidentally is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, happens to be home to some of the best beaches.
As of today, according to Google estimates, approximately 37 million pieces of debris gets washed on the beaches of Henderson Island making them the most polluted beaches in the world.
The sorry plight of this beach was first, brought to public notice by a researcher at the University of Tasmania, Jennifer Lavers.
4. Kuta Beach, Bali (Indonesia)
The Kuta Beach, also one of the top beaches in the world, is located on Bali’s western end forming a narrow isthmus into the Indian Ocean.
The visitors to this beach are treated to some of the most mesmerizing views of sunsets along with some memorable experiences of Bali’s beach nightlife.
Although very popular among tourists for surfing and a party-centric atmosphere, the central attraction at this beach, is today among the most polluted of the beaches in the world.
The reason for this is the garbage that gets washed up onto the beach during the monsoons and the fact regarding Indonesia’s rating as the second-worst marine pollutant after China.
5. Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville (Cambodia)
For anyone who visits Cambodia during their vacation, the Serendipity beach, one of the popular beaches of Cambodia, is one of the must-visit beaches in the world.
As usual like the many beaches around the world, this beach too has hotels and restaurants lining the span of the beach to attract tourists and improve their business prospects.
On the downside, according to a World report published in 2016, Cambodia’s coastline has been declared the dirtiest of all in the World, on the basis of the amount of garbage, as collected by the volunteers of a local NGO, the International Coast Cleanup.
The main reason for such an alarming amount of pollution is the lack of a proper water filtration system due to which the Cambodians a forced to depend on bottled water for their survival.
All this plastic waste gets washed up on some of these beaches which otherwise are among the foremost beaches in the World.
6. Haina Beach, Dominican Republic
This amazing beach has unfortunately earned itself the tag of being the ‘Dominic Chernobyl’ the reason being the illegal lead-acid car battery smelter that is pumping lead and sulphuric acid into the sea.
Further, the plastic waste that is washed up onto the beach as well as the industrial waste that flows down the rivers makes it one of the dirtiest beaches, in the world today.
In fact, the concerned authorities are now beginning to advise visitors, to the area, to appraise the local populace of their birthright to clean air and water.
7. Freedom Island, Manila (Philippines)
Manila Bay has some of the most amazing beaches in the world, but unfortunately, over time the beaches here are seen to have been covered by thick layers of plastic waste rendering them unfit.
The reason for this is the consistent disposal of small plastic sachets of food and personal care products. It is found that this is a very issue with the low-income countries where people are unable to afford the larger food and personal care packages.
Fortunately, having been educated about the importance of beach maintenance and the harmful effects of pollution, people have gotten together and initiated a cleanup drive to restore its beauty and serenity.
INDIAN BEACHES AFFECTED BY PLASTIC POLLUTION
Talking about Indian beaches, they are undoubtedly among the best beaches in the world, especially those in Mumbai, Goa and some in the Southern part being the ones most frequented by millions of tourists from within and outside the country.
Unfortunately, of late, the rush of such tourists coupled with their lack of sense of beach hygiene is beginning to have an adverse effect on them. The ideal examples of this are the Juhu and the Chowpatty beaches in Mumbai.
Moreover, it is not uncommon to see plastic heaps set fire on the roadside, a serious cause for concern regarding the general health of people. Also important to note here, is the fact that we lack a suitable infrastructure for plastic waste disposal, like that available in the developed countries, leading to such a problem.
8. Juhu Beach, Mumbai (India)
Unfortunately, this amazing and grand beach of Mumbai, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, has been rated as the most polluted beach according to a survey.
Approximately 18 km from Mumbai it has an excellent food court that serves you with typically Mumbai Food like Pav Bhaji and Bhel Puri, among others.
Very fortunately, the timely awareness among the Mumbaikars, to the extent of pollution here and its adverse physical and commercial effects, has resulted in some celebrities and volunteers joining hands to restore the glory and beauty of this amazing beach.
9. Versova Beach, Mumbai (India)
The famous Versova beach of Mumbai also falls under the category of one among the most amazing beaches of India, frequented by tourists from within and outside the country.
The downside of this beach is that a lot of solid waste – essentially plastic waste, gets washed onto this beach during every high tide, as a result by the year 2015 this beach was under five and half feet of the garbage heap.
Finally, it was at the initiative of a lawyer, Afroz Shah that this beach got a chance wherein its glory was restored. This effort of his earned him worldwide praise and several awards.
Surprisingly over a period of 21 months, the volunteers working on cleaning this beach had removed an astounding amount of 11,684,500 pounds of trash, comprising mainly of plastics waste.
10. Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai (India)
There are two Chowpaty beaches in Mumbai, one, the Girgaon Chowpaty which is a neat and clean beach and a favourite of children with all its Ferris wheels and merry go rounds.
The second is the Dadar Chowpaty, falling in the category of the most polluted beaches in India, owing to the plastic and other waste that gets washed ashore.
This fact acts as a deterrent to the tourist who comes for a visit to this beautiful beach. Fortunately, a group of visitors, realizing this issue, joined hands and began a cleanup operation at the beach, restoring it to its glory.
11. Goan Beaches (India)
The most beautiful beaches in the world, like the Bagga, Calangute, and Vagator lie along the Goan coastline, while apart from these tourist attractions, the world-famous festivals of Goa make it the most visited holiday destination in India.
Quite surprisingly the beaches on the southern part of Goa, like the Betalbatim, Benaulim, Cola beaches and the like are far cleaner compared to their cousins in north Goa.
The reason for this difference, in the beach environment, is essentially due to the fact that the beaches in the northern region see a large number of visitors compared to those in southern Goa.
The tourists visiting the Northern beaches being the unruly types leave behind a lot of litter, resulting in larger quantities of plastic garbage found on these beaches.
Final thoughts on ocean & beach plastic pollution
In conclusion, it is for us to realize the importance of the upkeep of our beaches to ensure their cleanliness for the generations, after ours, so that they too get a chance to enjoy what nature had provided us with. When you see plastic pollution on beaches please remember this: avoid the use of plastics in any and every form.