Fiji Pollution

Been in Fiji two months now. Every day I try and think of one great thing that has happened and focus on that.  I wish I had written them all down earlier, as very soon after the great thing, comes another not so great thing, that makes me forget the feeling I had before.  Fiji calls itself a developing nation.  That seems to be a catch phrase that is not based on reality, and the ways it is choosing to develop make me reflect on the “civilised” world I have left.  To “develop” as a nation seems to imply taking the worst traits of the developed world and making them a way of life.

Pollution is everywhere.  From a distance, Fiji is beautiful, but on closer inspection, on every beach, in every stream, in every waterfall, the signs of developing are everywhere in the form of plastic bottles, discarded fast food wrappers, tyres and rusting whitegoods.  In a land where so much is provided from the earth, and growing food for the family is easy, the desire for processed food is overtaking, and plastic is swamping the pacific.

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Plastics, whitegoods, flip-flops and backpacks are just some of the scenery at beautiful Levuka, the old capital of Fiji on Ovalau Island an hour’s ferry ride from Viti Levu and about 2 hour’s travel from Suva.

No plan has gone into how to dispose of anything at all.  There are only two options: 1.  burn it in your back yard; or 2. throw it in a watercourse whether that be an open roadside drain, a stream, a creek or river, and hope that the sea will wash it away.

The smell of burning plastic from backyard fires is choking the air on a daily basis.  The sea does wash away the plastic and rubbish, but it just washes it onto another beach.  The garbage island in the pacific is not limited to the island of trash in the middle of the ocean, but is actually deposited on every beach and harbour, yet still, the appetite for things that come in plastic is insatiable.

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9 thoughts on “Fiji Pollution

  1. Pingback: Fiji | alicevstokes

  2. Thanks so much for starting this. I will be keeping a watch enthusiastically for your news on living in a third world country. We spent a bit of time picking up litter off the beach at Straddie to but of course nothing like this. I just am often astounded that even here people think it’s ok to throw their rubbish around. A lot of it at Straddie washes up from the boats moored just off the shore. xoxoxo

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    • Yes, a lot of the garbage here is also generated by the people who live close by…. they just haven’t got a clue what to do with it. The government doesn’t seem to have a plan, and I am not sure if the makers of fizzy drinks and instant noodles are at all aware that they may need to start to take some responsibility. Am thinking of organising something through the myriad of churches around here to arrange for big bags to collect plastic rubbish to recycle.

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      • Maybe you could start a Clean Up Fiji campaign. Get the church to pay for the printing of some flyers/newsletters and the funding of the gloves/garbage bags etc and get a whole bunch of volunteers out there to help with the clean up and then work with the community to provide a space to use as a tip/ recycling drop off centre.

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  3. Have been thinking same. No recycling service in Fiji. 17,000 people live on our dirt road, and we don’t even have a council rubbish collection of any kind, it is just burn, bury or dump somewhere! Am thinking Clean up Fiji campaign is a good idea also. If you get any info on how it was started in Australia, that would be great. I think also doing it in teams and logging the rubbish collected is important. It was only when they counted how many fast food containers w were found on beaches in Australia that the fast food outlets changed to paper wrappers rather than polystyrene in an effort to clean up their image!

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    • http://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/about/about-the-event/history

      Info here. I havent’ really had a chance to read through it all but I imagine in a country like Fiji your best bet is to get the community engaged through the church. Meet with the church elders/pastors first and discuss your plan and ask if they can organise and facilitate a church community meeting (you could facilitate this). You can gauge their response and enthusiasm this way. Put a slide show together of the rubbish lying around – show them photos of the clean beaches and waterways in Australia and how a community rubbish area can be developed and make a difference. Throw in some hygiene information and how disease is spread and how it pollutes the fish they eat etc etc. From this you can then start to spread the word around your village at least first and take it further from there. I imagine it won’t be easy and without some funding behind you (I imagine this may come from the church in the first instance) it will be even more difficult.

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  4. This post is so insightful. It really touches on something I have been trying to wrestle with in my own way here in Sydney as well, must have inherited my social conscience from you!

    For the last four months I have not bought any hair/skin care products and instead make them myself out of natural substances. The crazy thing is that most chemical skin products actually make your skin worse and cannot be absorbed or incorporated into your skin the way something like honey can, which is both anti-bacterial and moisturising! I use pure coconut oil for everything from cooking to conditioner, to deodorant and make up remover (it even gets waterproof eyeliner off first go!) – coconut oil is also naturally SPF 7.

    I am going to a ‘All Natural/Homemade’ Cleaning Products workshop on Saturday morning – I will take notes and send them to you :)

    I write a gratitude list of ten things I am grateful for every night before I got to bed, even on a really bad day I still have my sight, a house to live in, taste buds, ability to listen to music etc. Then each morning I read the list from the night before and meditate on it while I am waking up and getting ready. Studies of the brain in fMIR machines have shown that daily gratitude list making changes your brain activity *better* than most antidepressants and even some drugs. 

    Maybe you could have a post every week where you select your top five and post a photo to go with them? That would be a lovely read :)

    I forgotten how beautifully you write. Did you find the children’s book about the polar bears when you were packing up? I still think you should publish it :)

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    • Thanks Jesse for your encouragement. We have been discussing same at home. I clean the floors with vinegar which also gets rid of flies. Fiji is the perfect place to use virgin coconut oil as it is readily available here. We use it on our skin for cuts, blisters, mosquito bites etc. I have been wondering what natural products you use to actually wash your hair? Would be grateful for your notes from the workshop.

      Will definitely do a top 5 best things of the week, but maybe not always with photos, as one from last week was: I have lost so much weight I no longer need to wear a bra!

      Yes, I found the book, and kept it in storage.

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