Manmade garbage islands are the epitome of a wasteful society, and one is an ever growing reminder of the tossed out and seemingly forgotten.
A former inlet west of Malé called Thilafushi, a water haven with white sand beaches, became a growing lure for tourists. This created another growing problem, waste.
Garbage became an overwhelming issue in the area, and it received an altering transformation in 1992. The idea was concocted to dig into the watery earth of the cove and use the depth to conceal the ever-piling trash.
Far from a sensible approach to waste management, excess trash soon began stemming out of its cavernous hiding spot. No longer able to be invisibly concealed underneath, the huge amounts of discards actually formed into a larger island.
Currently, the massive man-made landfill is still on the receiving end of the waste stream, causing the synthetically produced Thilafushi island to extend well beyond full capacity.
Some of the tons of thousands of garbage that ends up here is recycled, but the majority is stuffed on top of the pile and has to be burned down to try and keep the island’s accumulating height of trash from taking over. Laborers, some of who even live on-site, toil to continually sift through and burn down the mountain.
Toxic substances and non-biodegradable materials float about and deep beneath the layers, unsorted garbage and thick sludge material containing everything from plastic leftovers to leaking battery acid is in the mix.
Surrounding the site are about 100 islands that host tourist seeking attractions and resorts, many of which use the garbage island as a disposal for their waste. Though dumping here was supposedly made temporarily illegal in 2011, this reportedly continues and the environmental and societal effects linger on.
Seeing the real life consequences of a careless society still isn’t quite as harsh as seeing the people who have to live and work in the midst of it.
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