Beaches in destination areas such as Hawaii are often described as paradise, but residents of these places are painfully aware of the toll that microplastic pollution is taking on the nature, animals, and people in the area.
The TikTok account @coasthuggers takes viewers to the beaches of Hawaii, where they use a sifter to reveal a shocking amount of plastic and waste that lies within the sand. “This is what we see when we visit ‘white, sandy beaches’ in Hawaii,” they explain.
@coasthuggers #question from @coasthuggers What proactive solutions are you committing to for World Cleanup Day? #cleanyobeach #GlobalOceanCleanup ♬ original sound – SC Hawai’i
Much of the pollution that exists within the sand is microplastic pollution — described by the National Ocean Service as plastic debris that is “less than 5 millimeters in length.”
This type of pollution is dangerous to the environment, marine animals, and even humans. Microplastics can slip through filtration systems, allowing them to end up in the oceans where they can be ingested by animals. Additionally, even larger pieces of debris can end up in the sand and water.
Plastic pollution is “the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes” according to the National Ocean Service.
The Natural Resources Defense Council says that pollution comes from a variety of sources, ranging from tourists that leave their trash on the beach to trash that comes from everyday communities, which eventually washes into storm drains and into the oceans.
This plastic poses a threat to animals — they may mistake it for food and choke on it or be injured internally from sharp plastic — as well as humans who may eventually eat these animals.
In addition, microplastic pollution combined with other types of beach pollution can cause beaches to close, causing a negative economic impact and inconveniencing beachgoers.
Suggested ways to tackle the issue of microplastics include careful recycling, minimizing the use of plastic, and ensuring that trash is always disposed of properly.
The TikTok had thousands of comments, some of which expressed the same dismay: “That’s just so sad. So much plastic pollution” one person comments.
Others expressed surprise — they had not realized that what they saw littering the beaches was plastic.
“We have that in Florida too,” says another. “I always thought it was just rocks.”
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