The beach is a place where people go to in order to relax and enjoy their life. People wait all winter for summer to roll around so that they can head to the beach. The beach symbolizes everything that people strive for, from peace to enjoyment. However, in recent years, plastic garbage has made its way into the ocean. It is estimated that about 80 million ton of plastic garbage is dumped into the ocean each year. Despite the fact that bottles, bags, and beads being thrown into the ocean, they end up being brought back to the shore by winds.
Although most beaches might not seem as trashy, there are still many beaches that require a proper waste removal strategy to ensure that the beaches are free from garbage. There are plenty of signs which strictly state that beachgoers should not litter, yet only few of them adhere to the signs, while the rest of the beachgoers simply throw their trash on the beach.
Harmful Effects Of Garbage On The Beach To Our Mental Health
The twenty first century has witnessed the harmful effects of garbage on marine ecosystems, yet not much change has been done. From sea turtles consuming metal to birds eating plastic, garbage is not only affecting animals, but it seems to also be impacting the mental health of beachgoers. Psychologists are studying the effects of garbage on the beach. A hypothesis referred to as the attention restoration theory reveals that being in nature leads to many mental health benefits. However, when human culture degrades the natural environment, it leads to loss of mental health benefits among beachgoers. What was previously considered as a potential mood enhancer has no impact on the wellbeing of individual due to the degrading of natural scenery.
Psychological benefits that are associated with nature and the beach are not found when there is an abundance of litter at the beach. Unlike clean beaches that have a calming and rather soothing effect on people, dirty beaches make people feel that the beach has no significance.
When participants of the hypothesis were shown photographs of carefully littered beaches in Plymouth, it was observed that the psychological benefits of the beach were undermined. However, it is important to note that not all beach clutter has the same effect. For instance, natural beach debris such as kelp and seaweed does not cause any type of negative feelings. The hypothesis found that people tend to be more accepting when it comes to fishing litter like crates or nets instead of burger wraps or plastic bottles. The reason behind this is the fact that people subconsciously infer the intention of litterers such as fishing debris to be an accidental beach activity byproduct unlike a soda can which they find to be a result of disrespect and carelessness.
The main argument against keeping garbage out of the beach and the ocean is grounded around guilt and the belief that we have a responsibility to take care of the environment. But, ecologists find such a view to be dangerously incomplete. By recognition of the spiritual, social, psychological, emotional, and cognitive benefits of clean waterways and oceans, a more complete rationale can be developed for maintaining a healthier planet. The thing about dirty beaches filled with garbage is that such beaches are not just bad for the environment, but also our mental health.
When people look at a beach filled with garbage, the restorative benefits of looking at nature are undermined according the study published by the Environment and Behavior journal. Thus, litter can be a bummer.
At the end of the day, when it comes to our reaction towards dirty beaches, it is the type of litter that we see which influences our mental health. Hence, the attention restoration theory has led the way to more research being conducted regarding the impact of litter. It is clear that natural scenery decreases stress levels and boosts concentration levels. Nature is crucial for our mental health and that is why people need to escape urban environments if they want their brain to boost attention levels.
As global population increases, it is vital that an effective strategy is developed for reducing garbage on the beach and to ensure that nature is looked after. They key to good mental health is exposure to nature. Thus, clean beaches can help boost morale and make us a whole lot happier. Whenever you visit the beach, try to notice how litter impacts your mood.