• Ayah Khan

Polluted Beauty

Figure 1: Waste found at a beach in East Tilbury (Diana Jarvis, 2019)

“You can’t touch those,” a girl said as a boy huffed, speeding up for the hundredth time. The girl rolled her eyes, wondering how she ended up here on a beach with this child who was set on touching every item that sparkled. It was okay, but most objects were sharp, which was a safeguarding issue (and she was too lazy to deal with injuries).

“But why can’t I touch them?” the boy whined, arms waving in the air being dramatic. The girl sighed, eye twitching while the boy stomped in front of her. Drama emits out of him as C02 is released out of the cars. She was unimpressed as he muttered away, and if she were in a cartoon, she was sure steam would come out of his ears. It’ll probably pollute the air, she thought.

Pollution results from the presence of substances in places they would not ordinarily be found or in more significant quantities than they would typically be. Polluting substances may exist as solids, liquids or gases.

Through toxic effects of a substance, pollution may have direct consequences. As an example, spilling pesticides into a river may cause immediate harm to aquatic life. Pollution may also have indirect effects. Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for plant growth, but excessive plant growth can harm the environment. Increased phosphorus levels in surface waters (containing adequate nitrogen) can promote excessive algal growth. As algae decay, less oxygen is available in the water, causing fish and other aquatic life to suffer.

“What has that got to do with the beach?” The boy asked dramatically, jumping around, seeing no point in the conversation. The girl breathed in and it trying to relax. She will never go on trips with the boy ever again.

Beaches are an essential feature of the global tourist economy (Houston, 2002). To take advantage of this dynamic, most countries have devised proactive growth strategies based on a coastal model (Benoit & Comeau, 2005). Even though incomes and job creation increased in Rimini (Italy) and Estartit (Spain), more than 60% of those questioned were unhappy with poorly managed urban development and landscape destruction (Benoit & Comeau, 2005). May (2004) observed that geological and geomorphological factors increased visitor numbers significantly in various coastal locations, implying that degradation might affect tourism.

Water scarcity, sprawl, pollution, population increase, and habitat damage are all negative repercussions of the tourist sector (Benoit & Comeau, 2005). Phillips and Jones (2006) emphasized the need for long-term coastal management to avert the depletion of the raw materials that underpin the tourism sector. Landscape/beach perceptions change not just among social groups and civilizations but also through time, as landscapes become trendy, as seen by eco-tourism. Although development degrades the visual value of beaches (Ergin, Williams, & Micallef, 2006) and affects amenities (Benoit & Comeau, 2005), infrastructure is necessary to keep the industry afloat. According to Bramwell and Lane (2008), tourism–environment interactions are critical. It is widely understood that sustainable tourism is vital for the tourism industry and the natural environment (Eagles, et al. 2002). As a result, although beachscapes should be preserved, tourism markets should be prioritized in development. As part of this concept, it's critical to figure out what different user groups value while visiting a beach so that priorities may be established.

Not only does plastic litter desecrate the beauty and wildlife of beaches around the world, but it makes them hotter during the day and colder at night, altering the environment in which birds and turtles live.

Henderson Island, for example, lies in the Indian Ocean, on the western edge of the infamous rotating mound of castaway plastics and abandoned nylon nets. It was in the news several years ago when researchers weighed all the litter that had made its way onto Henderson Island, which is covered in palm trees and has white sand beaches. Despite the island being thousands of miles away from any significant landmass, they came up with an alarming number - 18 million tons (Lavers and Bond, 2017). They discovered that plastic litter on beaches alters the temperature of the sand there and on Cocos Islands, further out in the Indian Ocean. Lavers and Bond (2017) published their results in the Journal of Hazardous Materials after discovering that such debris offers another additional hazard to creatures like crabs, mussels, and snails, which are extremely sensitive to these temperatures due to their sand-based lives. Animals in the waters are frequently victims of plastic pollution, swallowing small and big pieces and entangled in abandoned nets.

Plastics are the common pollution one sees in different kinds of environments. Plastic has become an appropriate medium for many consumer things since it is lightweight, robust, inexpensive, and an excellent insulator (Sigler, 2014). Unfortunately, scientists have just lately realised that plastics' beneficial features make them dangerous to our environment. This is because plastic trash is difficult to eradicate. After all, it does not biodegrade in nature and instead photodegrades into smaller bits. The chemical connections that bind the molecules that make up plastic make it not just durable but also resistant to natural breakdown (Shaw and Sahni 2014). Over the previous four decades, the percentage of plastics in total municipal solid trash has increased by 12% (Sigler, 2014). Microplastics can seep into animal systems, causing organ failure and even infertility. Plastics may even make animals feel satiated, causing them to quit eating. Often, wildlife is injured due to entanglement or ingestion of the plastics found in the environment. The look of degraded plastic bits is comparable to various forms of food consumed by Procellariiformes such as albatrosses, shearwaters, and petrels (Blight and Burger 1997). Phytoplankton is what fish and cetaceans eat, and microplastics look like it (Boerger et al. 2010). Stomach plastic has been shown to reduce stomach capacity, impede growth, cause internal injuries, and block the intestines (Plot and Georges 2010). In some instances, plastic entanglement with fishing nets or other ring-shaped materials can result in strangling, decreased feeding effectiveness, or drowning (Allen et al. 2012).

“Does that explain why these things are bad? Why you can’t touch them?” the girl asked, a headache storming her head, ready to capture her lungs in a panicked breath. Or frustrated breath as she wasn’t sure how much longer she had to deal with the boy.

“I get it,” the boy replied, looking at the litter on the beach. It was hard to call this place a beach with how covered the sand was. The sand is hidden under tons of debris. What was a beach if there was no sand insight?

“Alright, let's go home,” the girl said with relief, cooling her skin faster than any sun could. She could go home and relax.

“But why can’t I touch them? Their so shiny!”


Allen, R., Jarvis, D., Sayer, S. and Mills, C., 2012. Entanglement of grey seals Halichoerus grypus at a haul out site in Cornwall, UK. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 64(12), pp.2815-2819.

Benoit, G. and Comeau, A., 2012. A sustainable future for the Mediterranean: the Blue Plan's environment and development outlook. Routledge.

Blight, L.K. and Burger, A.E., 1997. Occurrence of plastic particles in seabirds from the eastern North Pacific. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 34(5), pp.323-325.

Boerger, C.M., Lattin, G.L., Moore, S.L. and Moore, C.J., 2010. Plastic ingestion by planktivorous fishes in the North Pacific Central Gyre. Marine pollution bulletin, 60(12), pp.2275-2278.

Diana Jarvis. (2019). Old rubbish: in search of Tilbury’s 19th century landfill site. [online] Available at: https://www.dianajarvis.co.uk/journal/2019/4/7/old-rubbish-in-search-of-tilburys-19th-century-landfill-site.

‌Eagles, P.F., McCool, S.F. and Haynes, C.D., 2002. Sustainable tourism in protected areas: Guidelines for planning and management (No. 8). IuCN.

Houston, J.R., 2002. The economic value of beaches. Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association.

Kazlauskas, K., 2020. Within/Without (Doctoral dissertation, University of Hawai'i at Manoa).

Lavers, J.L. and Bond, A.L., 2017. Exceptional and rapid accumulation of anthropogenic debris on one of the world’s most remote and pristine islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(23), pp.6052-6055.

May, V., 2004. Sustained natural and recreational assets under intense use. Management of coastal recreational resources beaches, Yacht Marinas and coastal ecotourism. Euro-mediterranean centre on insular coastal dynamics, pp.337-344.

Phillips, M.R. and Jones, A.L., 2006. Erosion and tourism infrastructure in the coastal zone: Problems, consequences and management. Tourism Management, 27(3), pp.517-524.

Plot, V. and Georges, J.Y., 2010. Plastic debris in a nesting leatherback turtle in French Guiana. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 9(2), pp.267-270.

Shaw, D.K. and Sahni, P., 2014. Plastic to oil. Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, pp.46-48.

Sigler, M., 2014. The effects of plastic pollution on aquatic wildlife: current situations and future solutions. Water, Air, & Soi