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Garbage paradise

thilafushiWhen you are hanging out on the west coast of Male city, you can notice a weird smoke on the horizon. It looks quite disturbing in the idyllic landscape of the Maldives. And it’s even more disturbing, when you find out, where the smoke comes from.

Apart from 200 inhabited islands, and almost 100 of the resort islands, the Maldives have several function-islands as well. There are these devoted to specific industries, like tuna processing, or activities, like so called picnic islands, where the Maldivians take trips for the weekends. There is also one sucrificed as a dumping ground and it’s called Thilafushi. It was created after years of unresolved garbage disposal issue. Unfortunately, it is hard to call it a garbage management solution, more like sweeping it under the carpet. All the waste, including toxic are simply transported there unsecured and simply burnt. Thilafushi was reclaimed as a landfill over twenty years ago and has been growing with garbage transported here from Male ever since.

More then 300 tonnes of garbage may be brought here daily, which causes the island growth a square meter a day. It would be impossible for the 300 thousand nation to produce that much waste, but 10 thousand tourists visiting the Maldives each week significantly help to achieve this inglorious ammount. Maldivian authorities estimate that avarage visitor produces 3,5 kg of waste a day. That’s why, wile entering to the country, visitors receive a plastic bag for the garbage, they are going to produce during their stay. They are suppose to take it back home, when return.

Proper, and eco-friendly garbage disposal is a challenge for almost all countries in the world. It is becoming one of the crucial, when the country has such limited territory as the Maldives. Another problem there is lack of knowledge on managing waste. In the recent decades the country has developed rapidly, which was followed by industrialization. Suddenly, everyday waste  stopped to be organic and became hard-resoluble. However, habits of not collecting garbage in one dedicated place remained. The Red Crescent of the Maldives organised a special program of educating local people on proper garbage disposal. I believe most of Earth population would need such education, but the Maldives is most vulnerble for the effects of improper waste management.

śmieci    śmieciewMale

The postulate of the sustainable tourism is very difficult to enforce. In case of Maldives it actually creates sort of vicious circle. The Maldives revenue heavily depend on tourist industry. In fact part of the funds collected from tourism may be soon needed for the purchase of new land for the nation, when the islands are no longer liveworthy. On the other hand, garbage produced by tourists  and its imroper disposal is significantly declaining conditio of local environment.

Please find the BBC document about Thilafushi:

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