They Find 977,000 Shoes And 373,000 Toothbrushes On The Beaches Of A Remote Indian Island Of 600 Inhabitants

Image: Jenny Sturm Shutterstock

Plastic is drowning our seas and oceans. The greatest evidence of this is found in the Cocos Islands, where there is disproportionately more plastic waste than people.

Nature gives us beautiful places but the beauty of the beaches is increasingly affected by plastic pollution. An example is the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Located 2,750 km northwest of Perth, Western Australia and 900 km from Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands are a group of coral islands that form two atolls. Only two of the 27 islands are inhabited.

There are only about 600 people living there, but its beaches are littered with approximately 414 million pieces of plastic, with 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes standing out among the trash .

These remote islands are appropriate places to study the circulation of ocean plastic, since the waste that reaches these beaches comes from other places and cannot be cleaned immediately.

Dr. Yenifer Laver of the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, indicated that it is urgent to act on the warnings that nature is giving us.

Lavers has extended his studies to other isolated islands. In 2017, it determined that Henderson Island, located in the Pacific, had the highest density of plastic waste in the world.

On the Coco Islands, 93% of the plastic was buried up to four inches in the sand and 60% of the buried waste was microplastics measuring two to five millimeters. With that size they serve as food for fish, squid, birds and turtles.

© Jennifer Lavers

Buried microplastics pose a threat to wildlife, but collecting plastics also requires machinery that also affects animals.

The ideal solution is to drastically reduce the amount of plastic that is produced and consumed, as well as to recycle correctly, in order to avoid being disposed of in the seas.

The problem of plastic pollution is exacerbated by the fact that there are currently an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces in the ocean. Cleaning up beaches once they are polluted is time consuming, expensive, and needs to be repeated frequently as new debris enters each day.

Plastic tides become a real problem for the inhabitants of the Cocos Islands. It would take that population 4000 years to produce an amount of waste equal to that which reaches its shores and until now they have not found a way to dispose of it.

It should be noted that the amount of waste found on Cocos Island is a conservative estimate, since the team did not excavate below 10 cm and did not have access to some beaches that have a high degree of contamination. It only took samples from 7 islands and 20 were left without due study.

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