A Better World - Volume 6

[ ] 66 A Bet ter Wor ld Recent data also suggest that clean-up events are unlikely to generate long-lasting benefits for wildlife, aesthetics or economy, i.e. less visible plastic on tourist beaches. For example, on Henderson Island, at least 3,500 new debris items are estimated to wash up on the beaches every day, rendering clean-up efforts ineffective, especially in remote regions where the logistical costs can be prohibitive. Plastics found on remote beaches away from traditional recycling facilities also have a transport cost if they are to re-enter the waste stream. Local or national regulations may also prohibit outside waste from entering municipal recycling programmes, particularly in high volumes such as those generated by beach clean-ups. However laudable, beach clean-ups are a poor mitigation measure at the global scale required to tackle plastic pollution, and progress will only be made when dependency on plastics can be reduced. Changing individual behaviour towards plastics by alter- ing consumption patterns can be difficult, especially in small communities, or remote areas, where access to infrastructure and other resources such as education and alternative prod- ucts can be limited. Alternative products with less plastic may also have environmental costs in other areas, such as manufacture or transport, and may be more expensive than a plastic equivalent. Despite these hurdles, some of the most inspiring stories of individual and community leadership in waste prevention and education often originate on remote islands and in developing nations where isolation drives innovation, resourcefulness, and creativity. Recyclable metal compacted on Lord Howe Island University students on a field course (top) examining beach debris at the Lord Howe Island Museum, and (above) searching the beach for microplastics Lord Howe Island, Australia On Lord Howe Island, community support for initiatives — such as imposing a strict cap on the number of hotel beds — has ensured that tourism doesn’t overwhelm infrastructure and impact on sensitive habitats for which the island is renowned. Despite being located 600km offshore of eastern Australia, Lord Howe has become a leader in small island waste management 1 , with composting facilities as well as glass, cardboard and aluminium recycling and a small second-hand shop for household goods. Numerous small changes have been implemented with pride to help the island obtain eco-certification status. For example, butter is served in porcelain dishes (not single-use wrappers or containers), local cafes have only paper straws, and all grocery stores are free from plastic bags. Image: Silke Stuckenbrock, Two Hands Project A water bottle filling station on Lord Howe Island Image: Ian Hutton, Lord Howe Island Image: Ian Hutton, Lord Howe Island Image: Ian Hutton, Lord Howe Island