Written by Charly Avern
This week we visited the gorgeous beach town of Montezuma, Costa Rica. In the strictest sense it is barely a town; it comprises of a corner of road surrounded by a few cafes, hotels and a convenience store. Hammocks hang on hotel balconies, the locals are some of the friendliest people imaginable, and you can walk from white sandy beach to white sandy beach. Essentially it’s paradise.
So that is what we did on our first afternoon. We walked down the coast from beach to beach, which sometimes involved walking through a bit of jungle or clambering across rocks. This incredible stretch of coastline was basically deserted! In part this is because we’re travelling in the off season, but also partly because it’s just not that well known about. Except for a few beach huts the land is unspoilt by human interference as far as the eye can see.
And then we stumbled across this…
An entire stretch of beach that looked like this. This incredible, flawless landscape, tarnished by human waste. It was shocking.
And this waste hasn’t come from local communities or been dumped by local tourists. The people here are extremely careful about protecting their environment! No, this has all been washed up from the Pacific Ocean. And how does it get into the oceans? Us. Around 80 percent of rubbish in the seas comes from land based activities. The litter that you drop in the street, or the plastic that you don’t recycle properly, could end up ruining a beautiful beach somewhere.
In the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and California, the currents have created a vortex in which the ocean debris collects. It is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The situation is so bad that scientists have even given it a name! Obviously this has hugely harmful effects on marine wildlife, I mean we’ve all seen the photo of the sea turtle stuck in the plastic from a pack of beer. I could go on about this for ages, but take a look for yourselves (also the fact that no nation will take responsibility for cleaning it up because of its location disgusts me).
I’m sure most people will have looked at this post and thought ‘there’s just another boring rant about the environment’. It’s probably what I would’ve thought too. I’m not saying that experiencing this has changed my life and made me decide to become an activist or whatever. It just made me sad, and think that we could all stand to be a bit more careful about how we dispose of our rubbish in the future. If this is what a quiet, not very touristy beach in Costa Rica looks like now, what will beaches across the world look like fifty years down the line?