Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trashing Our Earth's Beaches

A trip to the beach is supposed to be filled with natural wonders--seashells to collect, rocks to skip, crabs to chase. But what about all the plastic that shows up on beaches? The bottlecaps, plastic bags, and bits and pieces of red, blue, and green too bright too possibly be part of nature. We tell ourselves we aren't the litterbugss, but is it possible our actions are indirectly polluting the beaches?

A friend of mine recently told me of her recent trip to Mexico and how appalled she was at the litter on the beach. She asked the locals where it came from and their response was: "cruise ships." I followed up on the issue for her because I was fairly certain it was illegal for cruise ships to dump their garbage in open water. I took an Alaskan cruise a while back and blogged about Norwegian Cruise Line's environmental policies. While I don't think these massive floating cities can claim to be green, I was surprised with how hard they worked to properly dispose of garbage.

It turns out that Caribbean dumping is illegal, but the law won't take effect until all the countries agree to report their garbage handling capacity. Unfortunately, many countries don't have sufficient ability to process the garbage created by thousands of tourists docking for a few hours each day, so to protect the tourism industry, they haven't reported. If they don't report, the law can't go into effect, and the cruise ships are free to dump away.

The plastics can strangle or choke sea creatures, work their way into our food supply, and litter the beaches. If you happen to be on a cruise in the near future, ask the tough questions. Where is the litter going? And keep asking the questions in your own neighborhood too. What about your own local beach? How clean is it? Where does that garbage come from?

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment