Holiday-makers clean Birie Island Beach in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat in West Papua is known for being a paradise for divers, bird-watchers and nature lovers. Although it is a sanctuary for flora and fauna, sadly, it isn’t a safe haven from rubbish.

Four friends spent a week enjoying the bountiful dive sites of Raja Ampat, based on Birie Island. One night a tropical storm fell over the island, bringing in rubbish with the tides, leaving the beach full of garbage. These clean-up heroes decided they wouldn’t leave the island looking this way, grabbed some bags, and in the space of two hours, they had cleared the beach of all litter.

The divers said the main things washed up on the beach were plastic bottles, plastic bottle caps, straws, plastic bags, polystyrene and single-serve plastic cups and bottles. Some of the more unusual items found included toy dinosaurs and toothbrushes.

It’s heartbreaking to see rubbish in paradise, but from this clean-up experience we can learn to reduce our plastic consumption, eliminating plastic bags and polystyrene from your household diets completely. Use a reusable bag instead – they last for life! Practice the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and let’s give our oceans a chance. Thank you to these clean-up heroes for inspiring change!

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Angela is a freelance journalist and founder of Clean Up Jakarta Day. Outside the office she climbs mountains and dives oceans, all the while picking up litter.


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