Kuta Beach, Bali – photo by Sea Shepherdess
The ocean is my happy place, maybe that’s because I love living in a country where the majority of the population live on the coast or close by, on the biggest Island continent we call Australia. When it comes to Nature versus Nurture If I was to grow up in Bali my view might be very different.
I have traveled extensively to different countries and I found surfing and snorkeling in Bali to be one of the most irritating experiences I have ever had, having plastic on my arm on every paddle through the water and in my face on every snorkel.
Sri Lanka was another Island country that brought up this gross feeling of plastic pollution on every street, in every corner and pocket of the country, snorkeling, on the beaches, on the road side, along the highways. Single use plastic for snacks and shampoos that get left in waterfalls and fly onto the ocean. There was a massive rubbish tip like a plastic mountain in Colombo and single use plastic bottles on beautiful mountain paths.
Walking along the beaches in Hawaii, in more secluded beaches there was trash everywhere not ever just straws and coke bottles but laundry baskets chipping away, Styrofoam boxes, spray paints, aerosol deodorants, lighters, and other things that may have even floated there from Japan. It’s a really interesting place when you look and the five gyres and see how close it is to the Pacific Garbage Patch.
The north coast of Peru was littered with dead fish affected by some disease in the water, we weren’t exactly sure what but the fish couldn’t be eaten by humans despite the large size of them. The city of Lima had a popular surf beach near Miraflores that was dirty brown and had massive spirals of dirty foam on it’s surface. My first thought was sewerage water.
These are only a handful of my experiences with the oceans of the world, but it really made me think about the consequences of careless consumerism. How much we have come to a total disconnect with nature. How much we have the power to change the world through our travel experiences. Or should I say how much we change through our travel experiences. It certainly made me aware of different cultural perspectives on waste, plastic, tourism, money and mindfulness.
I ended up meeting a number of locals in these destinations that did beach clean ups, because they saw how it was affecting their income from tourists if their Islands were trashed. If they weren’t educated by travelers telling them how beautiful their natural spaces are in their countries. My favourite experience is from a massive beach in Mumbai, India that had a truck driving along with 10 people behind it picking up all the rubbish on the shore. It was an inspiring movement started by one guy. He started something that others joined in on and it created such a large positive change in the area. A wave of change.