Remote Pacific island home to no one is covered in trash
Remote Henderson Island was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 because of its pristine ecosystem — now it has the highest density of plastic waste in the world.
PITCAIRN ISLANDS, SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN — One of the most isolated and inaccessible islands on the planet is covered in our garbage — despite being uninhabited.
Henderson Island is a remote atoll located on the western edge of a circular system of ocean currents known as the South Pacific Gyre.
The British Overseas Territory was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. At the time, UNESCO said its near-pristine ecosystem was of immense value for science.
However, researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences say the island has the highest density of plastic waste in the world.
Some 38 million pieces of garbage have washed up on Henderson Island’s once pristine sands. Analysis of the trash shows it was carried there from China, Japan, South America, Europe, the U.S. and Russia.
The researchers estimate that 3,500 pieces of trash wash up on the island daily, and typically include household items made of plastic such as toothbrushes, plastic bags and plastic razors.
Wildlife, including turtles and crabs, have been impacted by the garbage that has been dumped on the island’s shores, according to researchers.
Trying to clean the island’s beaches would be pointless because of the lack of visitors and sheer volume of trash that washes up there daily, report co-author Alex Bond told the Washington Post.
He advised people to use alternatives to plastic, such as bamboo toothbrushes and canvas carrier bags, and to bring your own mug to Starbucks.
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