For the most part, consumers don’t see where their trash ends up after they put it in a bin out on the curb. A shocking video shared on Reddit’s r/anticonsumption forum shows one location that is bearing the consequences of the world’s trash and recycling problem.
The video shows copious amounts of plastic bottles, trash, and plastic washing up on the shores of Guatemala. With each movement of the waves, the debris topples over itself and fills almost the entire frame.
Worldwide, developing countries like Guatemala are a significant contributor of marine plastics in part because they lack adequate waste infrastructure to handle their growing consumer economies.
Guatemala has a historically poor waste management program. In the country, there are limited water treatment facilities and regulated landfills. Sewage pours into riverways, which deposit into our oceans and critical habitats like coral reefs.
The Intercept reported that “in recent years, several internationally funded projects to build new wastewater infrastructure have been put on hold, possibly a result of Guatemala’s scandal-plagued government.”
Further, the United States continues to send hundreds of thousands of tons of waste to Latin American countries each year, including Guatemala, effectively using the region as a dump and exacerbating the problem, according to Latin American Post.
One effort that has been made in recent years is the installation of bio-fences — plastic booms made from recycled plastic bottles and netting — to try and capture the floating waste so it can be removed from waterways. However, the scale of this tool is limited and still requires human intervention to haul the debris away.
Commenters were disturbed by the sheer volume of trash.
“Shocking stuff. This Earth is suffering so bad and yet we still push this ‘consume more junk’ attitude,” one commenter wrote.
“There is no such place as ‘Away.’ We don’t throw things ‘away’ when we’re done with them,” another user wrote. “They don’t disappear into a magical place called ‘Away’ where they never trouble anyone again. It all ends up somewhere.”
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