Plastic is a topic we have often encountered on our trip so far, for example through our microplastic project and also real life experiences like finding a fridge swimming in the ocean. But after the last two days of 2017, we all have seen how much we damage our surrounding with all the waste we produce.
We were travelling through the San Blas Islands and on the 31st of December we went to one of the small island where we slept on the beach and celebrated New Year’s Eve. As we arrived with the Dinghy you could already see pieces of plastic laying around. I was in the group that left the ship at last so the others had plenty of time to explore the Island and one of them showed me a small clearing with the ground full of glass.
Before the dinner we collected the waste we could find. We started with a little distance from our camp and slowly came back. Using a tarp we originally had with us to build tents we carried bottles, wrappings, lost shoes, light bulbs, etc. from the beach and the bushes beside it to a fire we had built to burn it.
I had even found pieces of a printer! After about an hour we had already collected about 50kg but honestly, I couldn’t really see a change.
The day before we had visited the inhabitants of another island. They showed us around and as we walked we saw mountains of trash lying in every corner that wasn’t in use. In front of houses, on the sides of paths and nobody seemed to care or even notice. Many of us started to take a closer look and pulled out big beautiful mussels that were hidden in the depths of these mountains. I’m not sure if they just ignore it, but I saw a little girl playing with a Barbie doll, that had only the torso and arms left and probably was also found there.
Today here in Panama we made a spontaneous Safari Tour with the Dinghy through a near river and on the reeds we also encountered lots and lots of trash. It was really sad to find things like bicycles in a really impressing scenery like this one.
Later I talked about it with the owner of a restaurant, and he felt the same. He said, that most of the garbage came from the ocean and had been washed to the islands and land. But I think, that the fault lies also with the inhabitants, not only from Panama but every single one of us not looking after our environment.
Author: Lisa. Lisa is a very talented writer and one of our students taking part in the current voyage of Ocean College.