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Paradise Lost . . . to plastic

Back in the 1980s, Madonna wrote "La Isla Bonita" about Ambergris Caye off the coast of Belize. It was a hit and, having just returned from "la isla bonita" myself, I can certainly see where she got her inspiration.

La Isla Bonita beach with plastic debris Tropical the island breeze.


All of nature wild and free.

This is where I long to be.

La isla bonita. And when the samba played.

The sun would set so high.

Ring through my ears and sting my eyes.

Your Spanish lullaby. I prayed that the days would last- they went so fast . . .

White sand beaches, palm trees, warm breezes, crystal clear turquoise water. I could have stayed for much longer than the week I was there. But the signs of environmental degradation are undeniable. Enormous corals that must have been hundreds of years old were lost to a global warming event in the mid-1990s. Soft corals seem abundant but hard corals are struggling to make a comeback and are ever threatened by another hot summer season that would kill them all over again.

The real shock came when I stepped off the property of the remote little hotel where I was staying to wander up and down the coast along the wild beaches. Well, they are wild no longer. Plastic trash was washed up everywhere. I picked my way through the trash for more than a mile, staring in despair at red plastic crates, empty oil drums, broken flip flops, water bottles, cream bottles, deodorants, medical waste, TV parts, and all sorts of unidentifiable plastic rubbish.

The importance of recycling plastic could not have been any clearer to me than as I stood on this beach looking at how our lack of responsible waste management is plaguing remote areas that were once a pristine paradise. Could the people who chose not to recycle their plastic waste have made a positive difference? Absolutely. Recycling DOES make a difference. If you don't believe me, go to "la isla bonita" and see for yourself.

You can read more about what is called the "plastics problem" in my brother's September entry called "Plastic Plastic Everywhere."