Ghana’s plastic plague: A disincentive for tourism

THE sandy shore spans far into the distance, edged by lush palm trees on one side, and the foaming ocean on the other side. A massive wave rolls up...
THE sandy shore spans far into the distance, edged by lush palm trees on one side, and the foaming ocean on the other side. A massive wave rolls up the beach, bringing plastic bags, bottles, and other trash with it to this otherwise incredibly scenic location.Ghana has 539 km of coastline which boasts multiple dazzling beaches, such as Labadi, Ada, Kokrobite, Cocoloco, and Busua. These beaches, which are great spots to beat the heat, surf, and enjoy fresh seafood, are essential tourist attractions, but the pollution that plagues the coastline can and will turn them away

Cleanliness commonly ranks as the highest priority among beach goers in determining a location. A study titled How Much is a Clean Beach Worth, conducted in South Africa, found that 85 percent of tourists stated that they would not visit a beach with more than two debris items per meter. As many as 97 percent stated they would not go a beach with ten or more litter items per meter.

Cleanliness commonly ranks as the highest priority among beach goers in determining a location

 

 

Plastic is an incredibly convenient material. It can produce cheap, light, and strong goods, but it also can result in significant environmental degradation. As plastics are non-biodegradable, over time they don’t fully decompose, rather they simply break into smaller and smaller pieces in a process that can last hundreds of years.

When providing safe grid water across the country is a persistent struggle, packaged water is a necessity. However, when improperly disposed of, water bottles and sachets create mass amounts of waste.

This pollution not only results in a considerable loss in aesthetic value, it also presents significant hazards to sea life. Plastics contain many toxins, such as flame retardants and antimicrobials, and sea life commonly mistakenly ingest plastics. During attempted digestion the toxins are released, creating additional issues for an already struggling fish industry. Plastics breakdown in the oceans, but only in the stomachs of animals.

An expat surfer, when asked about the beach and ocean conditions, said the surfing in Ghana was fantastic, if you didn’t mind the trash. They stated that many impoverished people living in coastal communities dispose of their trash by burying it in the beach. While this gets rid of it temporarily, the persistent waves unbury these dumping sites and takes the trash out to sea.

In regards to government affiliated and youth organizations, a shift in norms is becoming evident. Measures are actively being taken and there are a series of organizations specifically focused on Ghana’s environmental issues.

A complete ban on plastics would be near impossible for any nation to achieve. Ghana had previously tried a partial ban on plastic bags, in regards to their thickness, but had limited success. However, many countries that have complete bans on plastic bags have experienced notable success. Rwanda, which banned them in 2008, has become one of Africa’s cleanest countries, and also has a strong tourism industry to boast.

Despite steps in the right direction, organizations must continue pushing for norm and policy change, and government organizations must act progressively in accordance. Addressing the issue of littering and plastic pollution, creating a more attractive country, not only improves the quality of life for all, it also progresses the tourism industry by increasing the country’s marketability.

Credit: allafrica.com


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