Bad news for beachgoers in southern China this summer: Many Hong Kong-area beaches are now covered with thick blankets of garbage that are making them unusable and environmental hazards.
In widely-shared social media photos and videos like the one below, residents and activists are making light of widespread debris in efforts to alert Chinese officials to what some say could soon become a waste crisis. These coastal areas—like Lantau Island, Lamma Island, and Hong Kong’s Ocean Bay—have long attracted tourists for their waves and sandy shores. But this year, many beaches look a lot different.
The Sea Shepherd Conservancy in Hong Kong says that overflowing seaside trash dumps on nearby islands and mainland China are likely to blame. Environmental expert and HK Cleanup Founder Lisa Christensen told the South China Morning Post this week that officials are taking only “small, hesitant steps” to combat the heavy waves of plastic and trash. With the high season already underway, it seems unlikely that the beaches will be salvaged in time for visiting tourists.
Trash buildup has long been an issue here, even motivating people to “fish for trash” as part of efforts to clean up waterways around Hong Kong. The levels of garbage have never been this bad, however, with some residents saying the waters are the worst they’ve been in over 20 years.
Here’s a Google Map of the badly affected beaches, courtesy of South China Morning Post.
More from SmarterTravel: