The Maldives is home to an island made of rubbish

Rubbish piles up in paradise too, as proven by an island in the Maldives. A sad story told by US surfer Alison Teal, who is dedicating her life to sustainability.

Alison Teal is a US surfer who decided to dedicate her life to telling stories about sustainability. She defines herself as the feminine version of Indiana Jones. She has a great passion for adventure, inherited by her father, David Blehert, internationally-known photographer who conquered several National Geographic covers.

On her website, Alison’s Adventures, she posts stories about places “needing” her intervention. She tells adventures aimed to raise people’s awareness, in particular children’s, on issues like the respect for the environment. In fact, her slogan is “Surf, Survive, Sustain”, in order to live a life with a low environmental impact.

One of her strongest experiences was her journey to the Maldives, endangered archipelago in the Indian Ocean due to rising sea level driven by climate change, where she found out the existence of an atoll completely covered with waste: the “Rubbish Island” or Thilafushi. The lagoon was chosen by the Maldives’ government to pile up the waste it is not able to dispose. Hundreds of tonnes of plastic and toxic materials are brought every day from Malé (the capital of Maldives) and its luxury hotels to Thilafushi.

One year later, Alison Teal went back to the Maldives with two photographers, Sarah Lee and Mark Tipple, in order to document the situation and try to do something tangible. During her second journey, Alison decided to collect plastic bottles she found in Thaifushi and other isles to raise the awareness on the importance of recycling a material that can be transformed and reused.

“I would love to see plastic disappear from this world all together,” said Alison. “But in the meantime, I would rather see it in bikinis, jackets, and eyewear than strewn across the beautiful beaches of the Maldives and other beaches around the world”.

Her website shows facts and figures of how many bottles are required to realise a bikini (10) or a t-shirt (2). Data come from big apparel brands that already included clothes made with recycled plastic in their collections, such as Patagonia, The North Face, and Teeki.

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