How A Picturesque Fishing Town Became Smothered In Trash
As the world struggles to cope with its garbage, places like this suffer the most.
MUNCAR, Indonesia ― You smell the beach here before you see it. The stench of decay hits you at around 100 yards.
A layer of plastic trash several feet thick covers the black sand. Millions of moldy diapers, ratty shopping bags, sauce and sugar packets, degrading detergent bottles, old shoes and toys clump together at the water’s edge.
In March, when HuffPost visited, the beach wasn’t even at its worst. Seasonal rains had washed much of the debris carpet out to sea, said Khoirul Anam, head of the town’s association of fishermen. “The plastic is so deep it makes the sea shallow,” he added.
This beach in Muncar, an otherwise picturesque fishing town in the East Java province, is a garbage hotspot. Muncar sits at the mouths of four rivers, which carry waste from dozens of small towns, villages and factories to the sea. Thousands of tons of plastic flow out from the port each year, mixing with yet more industrial and household trash that washes over from the neighboring island of Bali.
The trash problem here is getting worse, despite recent cleanup efforts by the community and an influx of foreign money. Similar scenarios are playing out across Indonesia, a country that has become emblematic of the world’s addiction to disposable plastic goods.
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