Maldives Home To Island Waste Dump

A frightening video from the BBC shows that one of the once-pristine Maldives coral islands has been turned into a giant, disgusting waste dump where up to 300 tons of waste is shipped in every day. Leaking discarded oil drums, piles of plastic, and mass incineration of trash are just some of the shocking sights that reporter Simon Reeve discovers. "It's sort of apocalyptic here," he says, his face covered with a giant scarf to guard against the dust and "toxic" smoke.

The trash pileup on the Maldives isn't commonly considered when people think about the lovely island nation, a cluster of about 2,000 islands and atolls southwest of India and one of the island nations most threatened by rising sea levels. When I chatted with director Jon Shenk last month about his latest documentary, The Island President, a chronicle of the rise of Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed and the ways the islands' fragile ecosystem is threatened by climate change, Shenk said that compared to some of the world's beaches, the Maldives have been relatively spared. And he's right. What's truly horrifying about the scene in the Maldives is that, in fact, compared to many beaches deluged with waste, this scene isn't even that surprising.

"This is a poisoned environment," Reeve says as he wades through piles of trash, covered in swarming flies. "We need to find proper solutions to manage the waste," Maldivian conservationist Marie Saleem admits. Indeed, if you've never seen what a garbage dump looks like, this is a good way to begin understanding why waste management is crucial for us all, and why refusing disposable products is the only way to curb the damaging environmental impact of our throwaway culture.

Photo of Tuvalu garbage dump via mrlins on Flickr

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