I remember walking down the beach on a beautiful day in Costa Rica and seeing the sun, the sand and the waves and thinking how lovely and beautiful it was. I had spent some time on this beach specifically. A few months, and was used to a clean beach with beautiful sand and sea. One morning, I decided to go to the beach and when I arrived at the beach I was shocked at what I saw.
The same beach that was perfectly clean the day before was now trashed. It looked like there were thousands of partiers that left the beach tainted and polluted. It wasn’t the local population however, it was from plastic that washed ashore from the ocean the night before.
The same beach that I could walk hundreds of feet the day before with not one piece of plastic or trash in site was now polluted with plastic every foot. Old toothbrushes, plastic bottles, cans, string and ripe. Small pieces of plastic that had been broke up and fragmented. It looked like a nightmare from one night to the next. This shocked me and reminded me that plastic is not good for our health, or the environment. Anytime you can get something in wood or bamboo instead of plastic such as a bamboo toothbrush you are doing something better for the ocean, environment and our health. Why health?
Well, it turns out that fish in the ocean eat the plastic thinking it’s a smaller fish. Clearly, it’s not a smaller fish. When they eat the plastic these petroleum by-product chemicals (what plastic actually is) are broken down in their body. Then, we go to our favorite sushi joint in America that imports fish from these large fishing countries and we eat the fish that ate the plastic. That’s then bad for our health.
Here are a few shocking statistics:
- 1 Million plastic bottles (for drinking beverages) are bought every minute.
- 5 Trillion plastic bags are used each year.
Where do most of these plastic bottles and bags end up? Sadly, in the ocean. A staggering 13 trillion tons of plastic land in the ocean each year.
It all started with a man by the name of Afroz Shah, he cleaned the most polluted beach in all of the world that happened to be in India, Versova beach. It looked more like a landfill than an actual beach. Afroz and a group of people picked up 5 million kilograms of trash from the beach in just a short 3 years, completely cleaning it up. From this an amazing things happened. Wildlife returned to the beach, specifically turtles. Afroz was awarded “Champion Of The Earth” awarded by the Divided Nations.
Initially Afroz started picking up the trash alone, singlehandedly taking on this daunting task. Then it turned into three people, then into five people, then into twenty people. This then led to thousands of people helping to pick the trash up. They put the trash into plastic tubs and then dragged it off the beach and excavator trucks dragged the trash away.
This has led to a movement in India that has led to not only cleaning up the beaches all over India but also cleaning up polluted rivers that populations of millions of people live along. Afroz was asked “Do you have any similar projects?” To which he answered “This is not a project. To me this is a date with the ocean, so I don’t know how many times you want to date!”
Afroz has done cleaning programs in Malta, Sochi, North America, Norway and of course his home country India. Afroz shares that “Plastic pollution hits the marine species. Birds swallow it, fish ingest it. This work we are doing is a continuing mission to protect them.”