The walk on our beaches sometimes is not a good and refreshing experience especially after the weekend with people leaving the leftovers on the sands. We all appreciate that families and friends need to have a good time and the beach is a good spot to do it. However, we need to clean up our rubbish when we leave. It is not uncommon to see barbecue scraps, plastic bags, bottles, cans and food littering on the beach. The leftovers do irreversible damage to the sea, not to mention causing an unsightly view at a place we love to spend a quiet hour a few times a week.
The truth is most people do not care after having a good time. They do not think of others who come to the same place after them. The beach is a common heritage to all of us. It has been around for thousands of years, unspoiled. Why should we start to pollute it now? The bad thing about spoiling its environment is that we do it while our children watch it. They grow up with the bad habit. They will do exactly the same thing by following our footsteps when they are adults.
Not only you see the filth on the sands but what we throw end up floating in the water. Plastics do not disintegrate easily and environment experts say the stuff can be in the water for years. The bad news is that fish confuse plastics as food and eat it. They end up dying with suffocation. Rubbish thrown on the beaches also settle on the seabed. They form a rubbish dump there.
We should remember that one of the biggest attraction of Oman’s tourism is our beaches. If our beaches are dirty, then that will obviously not be good to our international campaigns to woo visitors to the country. A quick look at an article that recently appeared in the Telegraph of London that said, “Oman has long, white sandy beaches.” We want to keep that impression when tourists come over to walk on the whiteness of our beaches.
I find it very welcoming when last week the government decided to ban plastics in the country. The retail businesses, without meaning to cause malice, are the major contributors of plastic bags. They end up in the streets and some on the beaches. The government should also enforce a rule of reusable bags in the supermarkets. A strict ban on plastic bags import should also be in place.
But the law enforcement should also be very rigid on littering the streets as well, not just the beaches. A ban on plastics bags will never be enough. Plastic products may be widely used but other containers of food like papers, cans and glass are also utilized. They end up in our streets and roads all the time. The most annoying littering is marketing when salesman hand over to you leaflets. What do you do with it after reading it?
They also push the leaflets under the gates of your home or stick them on the windshield of your car. There should be also a law for these unsolicited actions. Currently, there is a law imposing a hefty fine of RO 500 if you throw something from your car but it is rarely enforced. But laws and fines are never enough. Citizens and residents should be responsible for themselves. A clean environment is a lifeline for all of us and a legacy we can pass on to the future generations. There is also a matter of pride. In the end, it is all about education and the right frame of mind. We have only one life and we need to consider each other while we are living on it.
Saleh Al Shaibany