Nice to Meet You! We are Leslie and Iris from Meet You at the Bridge, your go-to travel inspiration and information blog. On the 13th of September 2015 we packed our backpacks and two Doppers and set out for Saint Petersburg for the start of our journey around the world. During our travels, we see, experience and a gain an understanding of how other countries and cultures deal with drinking water and (plastic) waste. We will be sharing our experiences in our blog: Dopper Bridges Borders.
We first reach the beach of Dulan, an artistic Aboriginal village in the east of Taiwan, after four months of travelling. When we take our first dive into the ocean, we feel blessed. The long coast is scattered with the most gorgeous stones, shells and pieces of coral, but unfortunately also with a lot of trash. Plastic caps, flip flops, shoes, fishing nets, tyres, a cracked iPhone and countless tiny pieces of plastic in all colours. How aware are the locals themselves of the impact of this waste on the environment?
Every time we leave the beach we try to take as much trash with us as possible, but there is just too much for four hands. That’s why we tried to get as many people as possible together to take part in a beach clean-up on Christmas Eve. This is how we met Mark, co-owner of the surfing school in Dulan, who is confronted with large amounts of litter on a daily basis. “It’s unbelievable what I come across every day when I’m surfing. The disturbing thing is the fact that it’s primarily the locals who are polluting their own beach. They don’t see the beach as a lovely place to take a walk or work out, they see it as a landfill.” Mark first arrived in Dulan eleven years ago. He tells us that back then you hardly saw any people on the beach. Before the relationship between Taiwan and China improved in 1987, the beach only served as a military gateway and not as a place to sunbathe. “Most locals can’t swim because they were never taught to swim and as a result their children also can’t swim. Ever since the number of surfers has gone up in Taiwan, you can see that the beach has increasingly become a place of recreation.”
It’s bizarre that we travel thousands of kilometres to take a dip in the crystal blue ocean and to sunbathe on that perfect white sandy beach lined with palm trees, while the children that only live 500 meters from said beach have never seen it. Mark tells us about his plan to teach the children in Dulan why they need to keep their beach clean through play.
“By getting kids to leave their computers and take them out hiking in the mountains, swimming, snorkelling, surfing, and playing on the beach, I intend to make them more aware of nature. It’s important that it becomes self-evident to keep the island clean, because they’re the next generation.”
The beach clean-up on Christmas Day was a success. With a group of ten locals and travellers, we achieved some great results: ten full trash bags, a clean beach, a great feeling and hopefully enhanced awareness. While picking up the trash, we saw how much micro plastic is created as a result of plastic lying around for a while. The coastline is full of it. Those tiny pieces of plastic are consumed by the fish and the birds and eventually also by us. This is a terrible outcome and one we need to prevent at all cost. By creating awareness, and using as little single-use plastic as possible, by recycling and regularly organising a beach clean-up, we can take baby steps in the right direction to create a better world.
During our trip we get to see, experience and discover how other countries and cultures deal with drinking water and plastic waste. Every month we will be sharing what has inspired and/or surprised us at that destination. Make sure to also read our previous blogs about Japan and Mongolia!