Trouble in Paradise? Are You Aware of the Trash Issue in the Tropics?


Trouble in Paradise? Are You Aware of the Trash Issue in the Tropics?


My friend and fellow travel blogger Marta Sailis at The Out Sider wrote an excellent post on a pressing issue in the tropics, especially on beaches.


The Sad Reality of Living at the Beach


Kelli and I have seen trash on some of the world’s most jaw-dropping beaches. Growing up in a developed nation, where littering on many beaches results in a steep fine or shaming, I was floored to see rubbish on beaches in Bali, Fiji and Thailand.


Some beaches in the tropics are basically dumpsters, containing a horrifying amount of trash.


We all need to pitch in for a few purposes:


  • to clean up the beaches with organized or simple individual campaigns to pick up rubbish on a daily basis; keeping up with trash removal is a must before some of these beaches get overrun with shit
  • to educate some locals who simply do not understand how littering damages the environment, causes health issues and hurts tourism


Marta makes a great point; some people living in developing lands simply do not understand how tossing trash in the ocean effects the entire ecosystem and eventually, the rubbish will wind up on the beach.


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Put yourself in the average Burmese person’s shoes: if you have lived in a dictatorship for decades do you think the government stressed a “toss out the rubbish” campaign?


Many folks in places like Myanmar, Laos, Bali and Thailand simply want to survive. The trash issue is not a trash issue to them until aware locals, expats and tourists simply show them a better way to enhance their paradise.


Fiji Clean Up


Kelli and I routinely picked up a small amount of trash daily when living in Savusavu, Fiji. Not much trash at all. But local expats alerted us to the fact that 10 years ago this was not the case.


Image credit The Out Sider


Awareness made the difference. Education.


Not judgment, or disgust, for getting angry at folks unaware of the trash issue is a form of traveler ignorance tough to digest. Our duty is to bring everybody together to honor Mother Nature and to take care of the planet through compassionate education.


Bali Awareness


Never lump all folks or even a majority of folks from some land into a generalized lot.


I recall speaking to a Balinese transport driver in Lodtunduh many years ago. As we drove by a mountain of trash – literally, it was like a small hill of rubbish some 30 feet high – he acknowledged the issue but in a compassionate, knowing way, explaining how an awareness campaign was on the move throughout local schools.


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Compassion, patience and education are the 3 headed monster that will consume this rubbish issue.


Read Marta’s article. She is the boots on the ground now, although I will join her in Chiang Mai in a few weeks.


The next time you are on a gorgeous beach with a trash issue simply grab a garbage bag and clean it up. Do not wait for anybody’s permission. Seize the moment by seizing the trash and tossing it into the nearest rubbish bin. Or simply take the trash home for pick up.


Resist the urge to shake your head and judge folks for not being aware of an issue. Shift your attention to picking up the trash.


Setting a good example is often the greatest form of education.


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