What comes to your mind upon mentioning the word “seaside,” besides blue seawater, soft sand and free-flying birds? Would you connect the idea with trash and pollution? But what about the reality?
GE volunteers came to Dong Tan Wet Land in Nanhui, Shanghai. They saw the beautiful scenery of the East Sea near Di Shui Lake, with migratory birds as well as disturbing trash. The 70 volunteers started their beach cleaning campaign with the guidance of professional personnel. After a joint effort, we listed seven crimes of coastline pollution.
1. Plastic bags
The plastic bag ban has been implemented for three years and the public have accepted it already. We also experienced this change at the seaside. Besides plastic bags, non-woven bags were also abandoned at the shore. Although the non-woven bags are not as poisonous as plastic bags, they are not supposed to be souvenirs that you leave to the sea.
2. Food bags
In only one hour, the volunteers picked up over 200 food package fragments, most of which were flushed to the beach by tides. And some were left by the tourists like a mark to say that they used to be here.
3. Foamed plastic
Compared to the foamed plastic, the plastic bags and food packages were just trivial troubles. The foamed plastic boards are light and fragile. After being exposed to the air for some time, they turn into particles that float along the coastline. In addition, the disposable meal boxes were also white blotches that were scattered everywhere. Seeing this trash, the volunteers were anxious but helpless. We were such a minor power in the face of such a big amount of trash. According to a tutor from Du Ren Environmental Protection Organization, the particles of the foamed plastic do more harm to the environment than what we see. If fish eat the particles, they won’t be able to discharge them. The white pollution will enter the eco-chain and endanger more species.
4. Cans and glass bottles
The drink bottles were also a serious damage, which caused a big trouble in our cleaning. Although the amount of this kind of trash was not big, they were likely to hurt the tourists and staff. Luckily, we had professional guidance and tool for the cleaning.
5. Fishing nets
Fishermen rely on the sea. For some reason, the fishing net has now become a gift that we give to the sea. We found that fishing nets by the seaside trapped many small fish and prawns. It is a pity that the young lives have to end in the net. The fishing net doesn’t only pollute the environment, but also violates the creature’s right of swimming in the sea.
6. BBQ leftovers
Due to the beautiful environment and advantageous location, Dong Tan has become the best BBQ place for local people. On the dam, we saw many BBQ leftovers: half-finished chicken wings, used disposable BBQ ovens, tinfoil, kites and camp fragments. We sincerely hope that people can be responsible for the beautiful scenery while enjoying it.
7. Human beings
It is not difficult to find a common key word for the seven crimes – human beings. If more people are aware of the environmental problem, the sea will be more beautiful.
Lastly, let me praise the volunteers in the beach cleaning campaign. Although the rain poured while we were doing the cleaning, the volunteers kept working until the beach was completely clean. I hope that this passion will influence more people to join in this activity next time.