Beach cleanup against plastic pollution of oceans

An ocean full of plastic – how it all started

The story of SAME oceans – let me tell you how everything started!

On a trip to Indonesia in 2017, my wonderful friend Daniela and I went to a so-called ‘secret island’ off the shore of Lombok. This tiny island (only 500 m wide) had some nice snorkeling spots, and we were the only visitors staying overnight – it seemed like a real paradise to us! On one day, we went kayaking to another small island close by.

When we started, all was clean and beautiful, but when we paddled around one stretch of coast, we were deeply shocked. We could not believe how much plastic was floating in the water! There were plastic bags, bottles, cups, toothbrushes, snack packaging, straws, flip flops and bottle caps everywhere. It was impossible for us to leave it this way, so we had to at least try and collect some of the waste – ‘luckily’ we would never run out of plastic bags . When we finally made it to the other island, both of our kayaks were piled with bags full of plastic waste. We just had wanted to make a nice holiday trip to a remote tropical island, and were devastated by what litter had done to this beautiful landscape.

Once at the shore of the tiny island, we were greeted by a group of local students that had come to the island to practice their English skills. They were surprised to see us with all that trash and asked what we were doing, so we told them that we collected the plastic because of how bad it is for our environment. The students and the teachers were really adorable and welcoming, and they wanted us to spend the day with them. We had a wonderful time singing, playing games and learning each other’s languages. They even invited us for a local lunch, which was super delicious (and really really really spicy – as if we didn’t sweat enough already haha).

The teachers and I stayed in contact after this day, as those special moments together had bonded us to became friends. A few days later, two of them invited me to a place called ‘pink beach’, as they wanted to show me more of what their beautiful island has to offer. After a long drive Haris, Samsul and I finally got to the other side of the island. Now I could really understand why they wanted to come here – to a magical spot with its incredible pink sand and blue waters!

An ocean full of plastic - how it all started

  But even in this paradise bay there was a lot of plastic in the corners, and especially on the less touristy the beaches next to it, you could find a large amount of plastic garbage. Not so much in the ocean, but the shorelines were just covered in trash. I was so devastated by the sight of this, I just had to start picking up the plastic that had been washed to the beach, no matter how the other visitors might look at me. I could not stop thinking about all the poor animals that might mistake the plastic for food, and the fact that every year more and more plastic is getting dumped into our oceans.

Haris and Samsul, such good-hearted men, saw my effort and would eventually come and help me on my mission to clean the (usually) pristine beaches. While we were working together, they seemed to realize the importance of taking action oneself, as they suddenly asked me if I was interested in giving a presentation at the local English college about plastic pollution. What a great idea! I didn’t hesitate one second and accepted the offer. After all, this could be a perfect chance to make a real difference and leave an impact!

Shells, not plastic!
Friendship souvenirs found during the beach cleanup

In my next post I will tell you how the story goes on and if I made it to the college, so stay tuned!

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