The Latest Waves of Plastic Documented in the Dominican Republic

A recent video taken in the Dominican Republic highlights the global crisis surrounding single-use plastics and the power of imagery. 

The video, which was shared by the conservation organization Parley for the Oceans, shows waves of garbage—mostly plastic and styrofoam—crashing onto the shores of the country’s capital city Santo Domingo. It’s a disturbing sight as the garbage is so dense the water below is barely visible. Images and footage such as this are important vehicles to bring about change. In fact, it proved to be quite powerful in recruiting clean-up help from the government.

Since the 13th of July, Parley for the Oceans has removed 1,000 tonnes of garbage from the region, but more arrives all the time. Ocean pollution is having a negative impact on some of the most remote islands around the world as well as our polar regions. ​​​​Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans said, “In the past we sent postcards with magical beaches and palm trees. Now, it's waves of plastic trash. Unless we all act now, future generations won't even believe the postcard scenes ever existed. We are calling for a Material Revolution – plastic has to go.” I absolutely agree and think documenting this issue is of the utmost importance. At the end of the day, imagery has an enormous amount of power. Where we choose to point our lenses, and the images we share has an impact on all of us. 

Parley for the Oceans intends to turn a portion of the waste into Ocean Plastic®, which is turned into "products that act as symbols of change and fund the battle against marine plastic pollution."

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28 Comments

97% of this comes from Africa, Brazil, and India.

Anonymous's picture

78.63% of statistics are made up on the spot.

user-156929's picture

Nah. Just the ones you disagree with.

Anonymous's picture

"Unfortunately, you've shown yourself to be a commenter unable to admit when they are wrong (which makes conversations completely meaningless), and who holds opinions on such abhorrent concepts like slavery that I cannot reconcile with. So no, there won't be a next controversial article that I will engage with you on."

user-156929's picture

Then don't reply. Pretty simple.

Anonymous's picture

"Unfortunately, you've shown yourself to be a commenter unable to admit when they are wrong (which makes conversations completely meaningless), and who holds opinions on such abhorrent concepts like slavery that I cannot reconcile with. So no, there won't be a next controversial article that I will engage with you on."

user-156929's picture

You can't do it! Really!? smh

Anonymous's picture

Do you have a source for this?

Actually, my comment was somewhat of a troll, hoping someone like you would reply with the "You forgot Asia, here's a reference..." comment (Thanks Dee!). Allen, just Google "where does all the ocean plastic come from?" and start reading.

I've been to many of those countries, and I've been across the Pacific several times (not just to the other side, but in a boat, crossing it). The U.S. is not the problem.

Anonymous's picture

I was wondering if you were a troll or just misinformed. Thanks for the clarification. In the future, if you wish to make a point, it's best just to come out with it rather than fishing (ha!) for responses.

I know that Asia in general is the largest offender, but since you've been on a boat in the Pacific (which makes you an expert, I guess?), I assume you realize that garbage doesn't abide by international borders. It's sorta everyone's problem.

I remember when I was 7 years old and some kids in my class had a food fight. The room was trashed. To be honest, I threw maybe one banana peel, tops. Timmy definitely made a bigger mess. But just because Timmy threw a ham sandwich, some dunkaroos, three apples, and an orange didn't make me less culpable for throwing the banana. Plus, everyone had to clean up the mess, since we all had art class in the room later. So if 7 year old Allen understood this concept, why can't adult Mike?

Actually Asia is the biggest offender:

"A study by Dutch firm The Ocean Cleanup and published in Nature on June 7, 2017, found that a full 86% of all the plastics in the ocean come from the rivers of a single, albeit large, continent: Asia."

https://bigthink.com/robby-berman/where-is-the-plastic-in-the-ocean-comi...

But regardless of where it comes from, it's pretty much everyone's problem...

Christos Dikos's picture

The curse of Globalism. We shipped a big chunk of our manufacturing to China which is the Wild West as far as environmental regulations.

user-189304's picture

Even accepting your assertion (which immediately fails upon the most cursory of searches), precisely what are you trying to argue? That it's OK, because you personally recycle?

That's your point, right, you're doing that thing where you assert your own lack of culpability by pointing to the actions of others.

Christos Dikos's picture

"What is happening in the Dominican Republic is only a small symptom of the larger global problem, Mr. Gutsch said. Plastic dumped in and near rivers washes into the ocean, and only a small percentage bounces back onto shore. The majority makes it to the high seas.

Mr. Gutsch said that recycling was a short-term solution and amounted to only a bandage. Parley for the Oceans advocates phasing out single-use plastic altogether.

The plastic waste washing onto Montesinos Beach comes from the Ozama River, which flows into the Caribbean nearby, one of those in charge of the cleanup, Gen. Rafael Antonio Carrasco, told Reuters."

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/world/americas/dominican-republic-gar...

michael buehrle's picture

where are all the straws ?

Douglas Turney's picture

Plastics are now showing up in the marine life we eat. Doesn't matter where it comes from, we all pay the price of not controlling plastic waste. The best way to control the waste is to minimize the production of the product in the first place. No product is perfect for the environment but some are better than others. And yes plastic is a great product for many situations but it doesn't have to be used for all situations..

William Howell's picture

“Unless we all act now,” that is the same thing Jacque Cousteau said! In the 1980’s Cousteau claimed there wouldn’t be anymore fish in the oceans by the Nineties.
Al Gore stated, in 2006,that by 2016 NewYork and Miami would be under water. As you can see those two brilliant prognosticators were not correct.

Plastics, like all man made materials, decay and disappear back to Mother Earth, from whence they came. So for the faint of heart, fret not, everything will be just fine.

user-189304's picture

You assert that because people messed up their timelines that there is no problem.

*slow clap*

Anonymous's picture

James: "Hey man, you shouldn't stand on those railroad tracks. You could get hit by a train!"

William: "Psst. Whatever. Some guy said I was gonna get hit by a train like twenty minutes ago. Didn't happen."

James: "But the longer you stand there and do nothing, the greater the chances that a train will come!"

William: "Stupid snowflake libra..." ***SMASH****

William Howell's picture

Allen: Man, the Emperor’s new clothes look swanky! Wow, organic, biodegradable and sustainable!

William: (sipping on a “Tom Collins”); What, he doesn’t have any clothes on… wow, thought his penis would’ve been bigger…

Allen: Shrieking and pointing an accusing finger at William, you know, like Donald Sutherland at the end of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

William: Immediately swept up by the The Thought Police, is charged with, sedition, subversion and worst of all, thoughtcrime… duh, duh dunnn!
Thus, being charged as such, William is not entitled to a “trial,” but is summarily executed.

We flash forward a week or so to see what our hero is up to.

Allen: Gee, how does the emperor do it, his new collection is fabulous and to die for!!! Boy, that William was a real asshole, right James?

James: politely nodding, tells Allen “hey I forgot the roses to toss at the emperor’s feet, at the florist, be right back.” Then runs to nearest thought policeman to tell them Allen just spoke the name of unperson.

Allen: At the “trial,” although convicted, it was decided that the infraction did not justify a death penalty. So granted leniency, Allen was sentenced to 17 years of hard labor at the National Gulag in Siberia.

Allen: Busting rocks as the sun was setting, with a waxing moon rising in the east, Allen thought, maybe William was right… no, no I will not be a thought criminal like William, Allen continued to bust rock.

Now this, this is how you set a scene!

Anonymous's picture

I think all controversial debates should be done with mock scenes like this.

William Howell's picture

“Slow Clap,” no...no, more like standing ovation, then after the 5 minute standing O, comes the chant, encore, encore, encore! After ascending from a chant to a crescendo, I come out, flip the tails of my tuxedo, sit at the bench and wow the adoring audience, leaving them breathless and wanting more.

Now this is a comment!

user-189304's picture

Nothing like being proud of your wilful ignorance.

On the bright side, even if you are fairly old you are going to see the true consequences of what we have done/are doing to the marine environment.

William Howell's picture

Dude you think my comment to you was super cool, look at the comment I left Allen!

user-189304's picture

Are you utterly determined to make me think that you are a complete moron?

William Howell's picture

Moron, moron, I’m a damn genius, are you telling me that a moron could write witty comments like these, no way dawg, no way.

Roberto Adrian Sanchez's picture

When have Al Gore been wrong? i mean he invented the internet ...

Geoff Miller's picture

I think here's the biggest "rub" when it comes to these stories... The places where these stories are making headlines aren't the places that are causing the problem. But none the less, places that aren't causing the problems see these stories and then assume they're "the problem" and start "taking action" that they falsely think will work towards "fixing" the problem. So, after a popular round of these stories cities here suddenly feel that plastic straws must be made illegal offer to people... even though the odds that such straws from these places are actually wreaking environmental havoc in the oceans and beaches are close to nil. Then compound the fact few people seem to weigh the impact of the alternatives being offered. It's been reported that paper straws consume more energy to produce then their sea turtle-chocking counterparts. Now compound that with the fact that in restaurants that I've been to that use paper straws they, as a matter of practice, give you a new straw with each re-fill due to the the sogginess factor of the old ones. So depending on how parched I am, I'm likely to use multiple paper straws at one sitting instead of a single plastic one.