Solid and liquid waste pollution on most world beaches is an issue that appears to be getting worse; despite efforts by volunteer environmentalists in the Middle East and elsewhere to make beaches cleaner and more eco friendly. Whether it be plastic littered beaches on such places as Midway Island, caused largely by plastic wastes accumulating in the Great North Pacific Gyre, or garbage carelessly thrown upon a Mediterranean beachfront, coastal pollution is having a severe environmental impact worldwide.
Beginning on a single Texas beach in 1986, a worldwide International Coastal Cleanup day has resulted in millions of kilograms of plastic and other solid wastes being removed from world beachfronts and coastal waterways.
Considering the increasing amount of plastics and other waste materials, efforts made by hundreds of thousands of international volunteers on September 18 resulted in the gathering and removal of significant amounts of polluting material. In more than 30 years since the first coastal cleanup day began, more than 12 million volunteers have picked up an estimated 220 million pounds (100 million kgs) of trash. This trash ranges from plastic and glass bottles, plastic bags and food wastes to cigarette butts and discarded childrens beach toys. A good example is in the photo below.
Environmentalists estimate the amount of plastic wastes winding up in the oceans each year to be as much as 8 million metric tons. Being almost non-biodegradable, plastics simply break into smaller “micro pieces” which are very dangerous to marine life; especially to fish, sea birds and sea turtles. This in itself should be a warning to make a greater effort to keep plastics from reaching the sea. Plastics are not only serious pollutant however. Liquid toxic wastes, from chemicals, oil and gas production, and raw sewage flowing into sea in Eastern Mediterranean countries like Lebanon has resulted in severe ecological warnings from environmental groups like Greenpeace.
One annual international day of beach and coastal cleanup will not in itself make world coastal waterways that much cleaner. At least it’s a start anyway to help make world beaches and waterways be a bit cleaner.
Read more on beach and coastal pollution and efforts to reduce it: