How Our Toothbrushes Are Littering Paradise
Updated: May 27, 2019
A new survey of remote islands off the coast of Australia found mountains of plastic weighing as much as a blue whale.
“Welcome to paradise,” beckons the Cocos Keeling Islands’ Visitor Center. The island chain is popular with vacationing Australians, and it’s easy to see why.
Photos from the chain of 27 islands, of which only two are inhabited, feature oceans that are nothing but swirls of translucent turquoise, cobalt and cerulean, and sandy beaches so pristine they feel untouched.
But a 2017 survey by researchers from the University of Tasmania and Victoria University, both in Australia, found the islands covered in some 414 million pieces of plastic weighing a total of 238 metric tons (roughly the same weight as a blue whale). The results were published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.