Tokyobling's Blog

The Garbage On Our Oceans

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on February 27, 2011

Let me break my own rule for this one post only – the rule about only blogging about positive things and about things I like. Here is something, that I am really not very fond of but deserves attention. Garbage.

Nothing relaxes me like walking along long deserted beaches. No matter what the country or what time of the year, I can spend hours just walking along the water, thinking. I prefer to be alone as it gives me as much space for myself as possible. Naturally almost the first thing I did when I arrived at my hotel in Okinawa earlier this month was to take a long walk along the beach, this time with my camera. It was a long, gorgeous beach, fronted by expensive hotels as far as I could see. It was also pretty clean, I guess the hotels spend quite a lot of money keeping the beaches spotless, for the sake of guests. But I couldn’t help noticing the garbage washed up on the beach. Naturally, I was disturbed by this and started picking it up, but I didn’t bring any bags and so I was quickly overwhelmed by all the bottles and plastic debris.

Where is all this garbage coming from? Of the thousands of bottles I saw, I guess about 90% had Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean text and labels. There were a few Japanese and U.S. bottles as well, but not nearly enough as the South Korean and Chinese stuff. My friends suggested that it might be tourists from these countries littering the beaches of Okinawa but I can hardly imagine a visitor coming all the way to a remote Okinawan beach just to drop of their entire collection of plastic bottles! So I guess this is all washed up from garbage thrown into the ocean, and the only stuff that makes it this far is bottles and other floating stuff. Which leaves us with the disturbing notion that there are thousands of South Korean and Chinese fishermen just chucking whatever they have on board into the ocean? Can this really be the case? I have never been on a fishing vessel in those countries, but who can really be so ignorant as to just throw their garbage overboard without thinking about it?

We need to start talking seriously about what we dump in the ocean, not just high profile cases like BP, but even from individual fising vessels! If this is the stuff that makes it this far, I wonder about all the garbage we can’t see, the garbage that get’s stuck on the ocean floor or in the stomach of marine life!

One of these things though definitely originated in Japan, the poor guy who dropped this cell phone on the beach can’t have been to happy about it! Of course I picked this one up for proper recycling, a cell phone contains hundreds of poisonous chemicals and heavy metals. The weird thing though, when I removed the SIM card and memory card, both of them were absolutely eroded and covered in crusty sea salt, but after a bit of cleaning up they worked fine in my own cell phone! So what was in the 2 giga byte memory card? Well, the same thing that most Japanese young men fill up their memory cards with, roughly 2000 photos of a dog!

Here’s a list of all the garbage in the photos and the country of origin:

1. Glass bottle, South Korean origin.
2. Fishing tool, unknown origin. There were hundreds of these!
3. Soft drink plastic bottle, Chinese or Taiwanese origin.
4. Plastic liquid container, Chinese origin.
5. Mineral water bottle, South Korean origin.
6. Anti-Freeze liquid plastic container, German origin, unknown use, maybe U.S. Armed Forces.
7. Red Bull drink bottle, Chinese origin.
8. Cluster of water bottles, mostly South Korean origin.
9. Shampoo bottle, probably Chinese origin.
10. Cell phone (Sony Ericsson), Japanese origin.









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20 Responses

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  1. Slouching Somewhere said, on February 27, 2011 at 3:44 am

    It was really goof of you to pick up some of those pieces of garbage. I think plastic bottles are the worst… I also see them littering some of the gorgeous beaches in the Philippines 😦
    On a lighter note, it’s interesting that you cleaned up the 2 GB memory card (doing a bit of detective work there, eh?) and how funny that there were 2000 photos of a dog. Awww 🙂

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:04 am

      You know me – too curious to let any old memory cards just laying around! It was interesting that it worked even after being submerged in salt water for a long time!

      I can imagine that there’s similar stuff on the beaches of the Philippines, I sure hope someone in local governments are hiring people to help clean it up!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  2. Gregoire said, on February 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Unfortunately, many people treat the ocean and the land as a huge garbage dump! I understand there is something called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch I know Wikipedia isn’t considered a great resource, but it’s better than nothing.

    Locally here in the U.S., I regularly see folks tossing bits of trash out their car windows or while they’re walking down the street. And during yard work season, I’m amazed at all the trash I pick up from my yard and the greenspace I take care of…

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:06 am

      Truly, I almost go berserk when I see people littering. I don’t see it much these days as I live in Japan but even here it seems that smokers are the worst. Almost every time I see someone littering he’s got a cigarette in his mouth. Weird.

      Keep up the good work taking care of your greenspace! Every little bit helps!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  3. chorwin said, on February 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    surprisingly, it even got “spoil cellphone” as rubbish on the beach… Too bad, this really bad for our mother earth.
    Good initiative to make all your reader care for the earth.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:06 am

      Thank you Chorwin! I think the cell phone was dropped by mistake, but those batteries are def. not good for the environment!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  4. amblerangel said, on February 27, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I’m so glad you posted this…. we need to hear of how the earth gets spoiled by little things done every day.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:07 am

      Thank you Ambler! I try no to post negative stuff on this blog but sometimes I just can’t help myself… (^-^;)

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  5. hotpaprika said, on February 27, 2011 at 11:49 am

    It’s so sad to think that there are irresponsible people all over this planet. Having said that I lost a cell phone once by accident when it fell of my hands while on a boat. It was impossible for me to fish it out. But HUNDREDS of fishing tools????

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:09 am

      Yes, I guess the fishing tools come away from nets or something. I think the human race should all cut back on fishing anyway, it’s not good for the environment in any way…

      Everyone can make mistakes! I hope some fish eats that cell phone and that someone catches the fish… (^-^)

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  6. Timi said, on February 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Sad post:(I always wonder how can people throw away their rubbish like that?Even when there are a dustbin around they would just throw it on the ground..

    Like

    • Gregoire said, on February 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

      I ask myself that question all the time Timi! And it’s really not that hard to hold onm to something until one can properly throw it away…

      Like

      • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:12 am

        Recycling is the name of the game! I think that in the future people will be buying garbage in order to recycle it and sell for a profit. Landfills will empty out once we figure out a way to use that stuff instead of just throwing it away!

        *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

        Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:10 am

      Yes, litterbugs should be given mandatory cleaning work!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  7. asrai7 said, on February 28, 2011 at 1:43 am

    It makes me sad seeing this much garbage in our ocean 😦

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:11 am

      Thanks for the comment asrai7! Me too… It kind of took away part of the fun of going on holiday…

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  8. Lisa Eaton said, on February 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    This makes me sad, too. I was going to link to the Pacific Garbage Patch info but Gregoire beat me to it. Most of that trash comes from those of us on land. In my town, the sewers drain directly into our bay, so if a person tosses a plastic bottle into the street and the rain washes it into the sewer, it goes into the bay, and then into the ocean, and maybe eventually to the beach where you were picking up trash. I think a lot of times trash can get blown out of legitimate trash sites (like landfills) and then get washed into waterways by similar means. Seabirds eat brightly-colored plastic because they think it’s fish, and then the plastic fills up their stomachs and they starve to death.

    Ever since I learned about the ocean garbage patches I have tried to reduce my own plastic consumption. It’s not easy, though – everything comes in plastic!! Why does my grocery store need to wrap the peppers in plastic? I do carry a reusable water bottle instead of using throwaway bottles, I take reusable bags to the grocery store, and I take ceramic mugs to work instead of using throwaway cups. I hope my effort helps a little. It is a really depressing situation.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 4:17 am

      Lisa, thanks for the long comment! I totally agree. Unfortunately we still rely far too much on plastic in our culture. Every little bit helps, and I am one of those always walking around with plastic bags in my pockets. I also try to tell the cashiers no to bag stuff for me but sometimes they are just so quick!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like

  9. dreamingbig2 said, on March 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    My family and I went to the Georgia Aquarium yesterday and they had a display on what our garbage is doing to the ocean. The information provided was very sad. What is even more sad… that while we were standing there reading the display, everyone else just walked by. I know people are getting tired of hearing about recycling but we are not even close to being done yet. About 60% of the garbage found in our oceans is “recyclable”. We are not only destroying the planet but we are killing all the beautiful creatures in the ocean. Boy are we ungrateful for what we have to treat earth this way.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 31, 2011 at 12:45 am

      Dear Dreamingbig2, thank you for the kind and thoughtful comment! People tend not to want to read those sort of things anymore. I guess it’s the old out of sight out of mind problem. These days even though we might be getting better at recycling stuff, but we tend not to do anything about the root of the problem, avoiding consuming these products in the first place.

      I have never visited the Georgia Aquarium but it’s on my list!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like


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