Stunning white beaches, pristine sands, crystal clear water… this is the view that I am sure the Tourism board wants you to see, and for the most part is true. However how rubbish is dealt with in the Maldives has shocked me. I am not an expert in the field of environment or waste management, but I have eyes and I also think I have good common sense and it doesn’t take a scientist to realise that if you keep polluting and don’t have a proper plan for dealing with your rubbish and put it into practice you are going to fuck the world.
Although the Maldives is not a first world country one would still think it would be prudent to take care of the ocean since it is where the majority of the food comes from. Being a chef this is something that concerns me and I think about often. Fishing makes up a very large percentage of the economy and the water is also the draw card for the tourism industry (which makes up over half of the economy). There seems to be a total disregard for littering and a lack of caring. The majority of rubbish gets sent to Thila Fushi (aka rubbish island) where rubbish is piled on rubbish upon more rubbish stacked dangerously close to the water’s edge, and that rubbish that isn’t stacked up is burned releasing huge plumes of smoke into the atmosphere. Not all of it goes straight up but drifts; something I realised as the pungent smell assaulted my senses and burned the back of my throat as we sailed past in a ferry one day.
I truly think a lot of it comes down to education. Nobody seems to care. Even the “out of sight, out of mind” approach doesn’t work if the problem has got so large that you can’t help but see it. I have seen a boat driver throw his rubbish out of the window into the sea without a care in the world and a woman in Male throw her empty drink container onto the ground after her small child had finished with it. Apparently ‘floating rubbish’ is an issue and with actions and attitudes like this it is not a surprise.
With most of the Maldives being under 3ft above sea level this country especially should be concerned about caring for the environment, global warming and rising sea levels. If for no other reason than self-preservation. I’m not sure what the answer is but if people aren’t educated and change their ways and start caring about their environment then maybe there won’t be too much left to care about sooner than we think.
- “They do not care”: Maldives outsources climate change pavilion at international art show (minivannews.com)
- Maldives unveils first part of massive regeneration project (rentmycottage.com)
- Art Confronts Maldives’ Climate Change Controversy (ipsnews.net)