Why the Waves of Garbage in Santo Domingo are the Symptom of a Bigger Issue

Aimee Pearcy
3 min readAug 1, 2018

A few days ago, Parley for the Oceans shared a harrowing video that shows the waves of garbage (literally) being washed up on the shoreline of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Over the past few days, hundreds of tons of plastic have been washed up in the usually pristine, turquoise waters of the Dominican Republic, leading to a major environmental crisis.

NGO workers, local officials, and volunteers have collected over 520 tons of waste so far.

However, the trash has continued to build up, and there’s still more work to be done.

The danger of ocean plastics

It takes decades for plastics to break down. When they do, they release tiny microplastics.

These microplastic fragments float around in our oceans, attracting other toxins (such as pesticides) in the water, drawing them in so that they are all concentrated in one place.

They are also ingested by fish and other marine animals. If they are broken down enough, they are even able to cross membranes and enter the cells of fish. This can cause a variety of health problems in the fish, including reproduction issues, lower immunity, and decreased survival skills.

Research has shown that these plastic particles are certainly in our food chain and our drinking water.

However, there is still limited research on what happens to us when we eat fish that have ingested these plastic particles.

Plastic pollution has become one of the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century

Eight million metric tons of plastic trash enters the ocean from land every single year. This is the equivalent of approximately five full plastic bags of trash for every foot of coastline in the world.

Environmentalists are estimating that there are approximately 5 trillion pieces of plastics — weighing approximately 250,000 tons — floating in oceans around the globe.