This week, on the 15th September, we saw the celebration of World Cleanup Day. This is a worldwide event, that aims to unite people together from all around the globe to work towards creating a ‘Waste-Free World.’ This day was created not only to clean up pollution from our beaches and oceans, but also to raise awareness about the issue of global waste.
Here at Soneva, many of you will already be aware that we work on a ‘Waste to Wealth’ concept, where 90% of the waste on site is recycled. Waste should be valued as an asset, and that is just what we do; we turn our food waste into compost, and our Styrofoam into building blocks. Despite the important work that organisations like us are doing around the globe, however, the amount of plastic in the oceans is staggering. Estimated to overtake the number of fish in the sea by 2050, plastic is floating across the Indian ocean and washing up on our beaches in excessive amounts. By simply taking a look at the label on the plastic water bottles washing up on our shore, we can determine that plastic waste is traveling vast distances in the ocean currents to reach us, from far-flung countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar and India.
To do our part in tackling this global dilemma on World Cleanup Day, we organised a special Reef Clean and a Beach Cleanup at Soneva Jani. For the beach cleanup, we decided to carry out the activity in our turtle nesting spot. We also decided to focus on small pieces of plastic which are often overlooked, but are equally, if not more concerning that the large pieces. Micro-plastics are pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, that are now prevalent in the Marine Environment. These tiny pieces of plastic may be manufactured small, as micro-beads in toothpaste or face-wash, but may also be formed from bigger pieces that break down into tiny fragments when subjected to UV radiation. Recent studies show that these small pieces of plastic may be especially harmful for turtle nests, because they act as an insulator, heating up the sand when the plastic gets hot from the sun. Unfortunately for turtles, their sex is determined by heat, with warmer temperatures of between 29-34 degrees Celsius producing females, and cooler nests of 24-29 producing males. Therefore, when plastic warms up from the heat of the sun, they increase the temperatures of the sand where the turtles make their nests, producing a bias towards female hatchlings, and potentially hindering the future reproductive success of turtles.
Although the task sometimes seems overwhelming, it is important that we continue to take part in activities to help protect marine life from the harmful effects of plastic pollution. Why don’t you join us for a beach clean, or search for a local cleanup event near you?