White Sandy Beaches, or Toxic Wastelands?

Published by Ocean Generation \ August 8, 2018 8:49 am

On the southeastern coast of Africa lies a little beach town in Mozambique called Tofo, hours from any major city, with only a couple hundred full time inhabitants. Blessed with endless, seemingly uninhabited and untouched shores, this gem of a place seems like the perfect escape from the ‘real world’…

But nope – too good to be true. Reality snaps back as a peaceful stroll on the beach turns into a confrontation with one of society’s most critical issues – trash – and most especially plastic trash.  

 A lot of people tend to focus on the most visible side of the problem – the huge garbage patches floating about in our oceans or washing up on our shores; they often seem to forget the even scarier reality of what these patches have become after years of being left untreated. 

Littering the shores of Tofo are examples of this: tiny pieces of plastic, discreetly merging with the sand like a virus spreading beneath our very feet. Just as rocks and shells become sand, plastic morphs into tiny micro-fragments; and just as counting each grain of sand on a beach is impossible, cleaning up each micro-fragmented piece of plastic is an equally insurmountable task. 

Micro plastics are easily consumed by other creatures, and in turn, by us. Rapidly attacking our food chain and crowding our oceans – this plastic problem is not going away any time soon. 

Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected and our daily choices and consumption directly impact not only our surrounding environment, but also environments on the other side of the world, in places we might have never even heard of. Case in point: in Tofo, most of the trash on the beach was not from the town’s inhabitants, but had washed up by currents from shores unknown.

Like frogs failing to jump out of a slowly boiled pot of water because they do not recognize the danger until too late, we are rapidly entering into a toxic world where plastic is becoming more common than fish in our seas and, yet, still we normalize the use of plastic, and even more appallingly single-use plastic.  

It is up to us to decrease the demand for production of plastic by decreasing our use of plastic and by making conscious choices on the kinds of products we support. No matter where we live, city or suburb, coastal town or countryside, we are intrinsically connected to our environment and it is our duty to honor and respect this connection. So, the choice is yours; which do you prefer – swimming at white sandy beaches, or wading through toxic wastelands?

By Gemma Bonfi

 

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